The first batch of 187 Nigerians in South Africa have returned to Nigeria after the xenophobic attacks.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the returnees were aided by the Federal Government with the assistance of a Nigerian carrier, Air Peace.
The B777 aircraft, with registration number 5N-BWI, which departed Thambo International Airport, Johannesburg, landed at the Cargo Wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, at 9.37 p.m.
The returnees included adults, children and infants, who expressed joy on returning home safely and sang the Nigerian National Anthem.
They were received by the Chairman of Nigeria Diaspora Commission, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Air Peace Chairman, Mr Allen Onyema, and the representatives of government which included the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Nigeria Immigration Service and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria.
Dabiri-Erewa told newsmen that over 600 Nigerians had indicated interest to return from South Africa, adding that the government was ready to assist them to settle back in the country through its various social intervention programmes.
She said the Bank of Industry had also been mobilised to assist those willing to acquire vocational skills.
According to her, stipends will be given to these Nigerians to enable them get back to their respective states, while telecommunication company, MTN, will also give them pre-loaded Sim cards of N6, 000 to assist them.
Onyema told newsmen that the airline spent over N300 million to airlift the affected Nigerians in the bid to support the Federal Government.
“We want to send a signal to the world that Nigerians are their brother’s keepers.
“I support the Federal Government and President Muhammadu Buhari and this gesture is an assistance to the government to bring our brothers back home.
“We are offering free trip to Nigerians in South Africa to return home after going through the traumatic experience of the attacks.
“Air Peace has said this is free and we are doing it in solidarity with the Federal Government,” Onyema said.
Two of the returnees, Mr John Onuoha from Abia and Jude Anthony from Edo, told newsmen that they were unjustly attacked by South Africans, who destroyed their businesses and properties in fresh xenophobic attacks which began on Aug. 29.
They praised Air Peace for the kind gesture, stressing that there was no place like home.
#Thank You Air Peace— Prof Bolanle 🇳🇬 (@BolanleCole) September 12, 2019
“I put together over N280 million in other to bring these people back, Air Peace decided to bring them free of charge, nobody paid us a dime, we decided to do it free of charge for our country and for our pple.”
I need just 500 RT to celebrate Allen Onyema. pic.twitter.com/FTBE47s8PG
We Nigerians are eternally grateful to, and extremely proud of, Mr. Allen Onyema, CEO of Air Peace Airlines, for his towering act of altruism and generosity in evacuating Nigerians from #SouthAfrica free of charge. A true Nigerian patriot! #TrueNigerian @NigeriaGov @DigiCommsNG pic.twitter.com/gldVuZU4Vv— Geoffrey Onyeama (@GeoffreyOnyeama) September 12, 2019
CEO of Air Peace, Allen Onyema receives applause & warm hugs from Nigerians rescued from South Africa.— Anambra 1st son💭 (@UchePOkoye) September 12, 2019
This is what the Govt.Should've done, but he's too divisive for that.
Dear Easterners, this is how you're going to rescue your region without FG.