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Evacuated Nigerians stranded at Egypt border, Gbajabiamila orders probe

The Nigerian Ambassador to Egypt, Nura Rimi, has said the conditions given by the Egyptian government must be met to allow stranded Nigerians, fleeing the insurrection in Sudan, to cross into Egypt for airlifting.


The first set of Nigerians, numbering 637, evacuated from Sudan have been stranded at the Egyptian border with the war-torn country, six days after their arrival.


The Federal Government on Monday said Egyptian authorities opened their country’s border for Nigerians fleeing the Sudan war to cross, after an intervention by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).


A message from Nura Rimi, sighted by our correspondent on Monday, showed that Egypt had finally granted Nigeria’s approval but on some conditions.


Speaking on Tuesday on the Nigeria Television Authority, Rimi explained that, “We are waiting to be called to cross over to the Sudanese side to receive our citizens, our students who have been there for six days now.


“You can imagine that they have been out there for five-six days. So, as soon as they come in, they are going to be checked in by the Red Cross to determine their state of health before we put them on the bus before we start the six-hour journey to Aswan.


“When we get to Aswan, aircraft would be ready to take them to Nigeria. That is one of the conditions. As soon as we pick them up, we will hand them over to NEMA officials and, of course, our officials will accompany them with an escort of the government of Egypt to Aswan Airport and straight into the aircraft.


“We have a C130 on the ground and an Air Peace plane is on the way. They are going to release the students based on the number of available seats and the aircraft on the ground.


“I do not know how many batches are there because they are on the Sudanese side of the border while I am on the Egyptian side of the border but I know that there are about 500 people out there. We know that the Egyptian government gave us some conditions to which we must comply. We are going to go on with the evacuation based on the agreement with the Egyptian government. No one has crossed the border yet.”


An official of the National Emergency Management Agency, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, noted that arrangements for more aircraft were in place to evacuate all stranded Nigerians either in Egypt or in Port Sudan.


“This evacuation has met a lot of challenges that the government tries to involve alternative measures to break through the challenges.


Firstly, while we expect these stranded Nigerians will pass through the border with ease, the Egypt authorities declined that protocols must be observed, which we have to comply with.


Meanwhile, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has said the House will investigate the delay by the Egyptian government to allow Nigerians evacuated from war-torn Sudan into its territories.


The Speaker said the House would examine, to eliminate the “apparent confusion” over the roles and jurisdiction of relevant ministries, departments and agencies of the Federal Government in the management of the crisis involving Nigerians abroad.


Gbajabiamila made this known at a “situation report and update meeting” on the evacuation of Nigerians from Sudan, according to a statement issued by the Special Adviser to the Speaker on Media and Publicity, Lanre Lasisi, in Tuesday.


The statement was titled, ‘Sudan Crisis: Reps to Probe Egypt’s Reluctance to Grant Returning Nigerians Access into its Territories – Gbajabiamila…Speaker Meets FG Ministries, Assures on Safety of Returnees.’


(The Punch)


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