The first batch of Nigerians fleeing war-prone Sudan has arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja.
The 376 returnees, who took off from Aswan, Egypt, were airlifted by the Nigerian Air Force on the NAF C-130H aircraft at about 4pm.
They landed at the Federal Capital Territory at 11:35 pm against the 11:23pm scheduled for a touchdown at the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport.
The Evacuees experienced some delays as a result of the formalities issued by the Egyptian authorities to enable them to be airlifted to Nigeria.
Federal Government’s delegation who were at the airport to welcome the returnees are: Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management & Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouk; Director General, National Management Emergency Agency (NEMA), Ahmed Mustapha and Chairman/CEO of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
The Minister disclosed that each of the returnees would be given N100,000 to enable them settle in, adding that a full press briefing on the issues surrounding the evacuation had been scheduled for Thursday.
On his part, NEMA Director General also noted that four aircraft were expected to arrive on Thursday, adding that they would convey almost 400 persons.
According to him, Azman Air has joined Air Peace in the evacuation effort.
The returnees were screened by officials of Federal Ministry of Health upon arrival in the country.
While giving update on the delay experienced by the stranded Nigerians, one of the officials said: “Two aircraft, Air Peace and NAF C130, are supposed to airlift 350 passengers.
“Unfortunately, 26 additional persons sneaked into the buses. The Egyptian personnel were there.
“They counted and they found 376 Nigerians. They refused the 26 people to stay back at the airport and they also refused to allow Nigerian officials to take the 26 people back to the border.
“Now, they want everyone to leave. Neither will they allow them to go back to the border.
“The only option is to overload the aircraft. The pilots were consulted and they said they could not airlift more people and have plenty of luggage”.
However, the Air Peace plane arrived at 11:35pm with 278 passengers while NAF C130 arrived at 11:55pm with 98 passengers.