The Nigerian Mission in South Africa says no fewer than 400 Nigerians have indicated interest and registered to be evacuated from South Africa following the recent xenophobic attacks.
Nigeria’s Consul General in Johannesburg, Godwin Adama, said this in a telephone interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja.
Adama noted that Air Peace had offered to airlift those willing to return home sequel to the attacks on Nigerians and their businesses by South Africans.
According to him, the first batch of Nigerians who are willing to return home will be repatriated on Wednesday.
“We have more than enough for that aircraft. Over 400 Nigerians have already registered; more are still coming,’’ he said.
The Nigerian High Commissioner to South Africa, Kabiru Bala, also said that Nigerians had responded positively in good numbers.
Bala said that the mission was equally responding to the needs of those willing to return, especially those who had issues with their documents.
“We are documenting them. Those without travel documents, we shall provide them with Emergency Travel Certificates.
“There are other governmental procedures that we must observe. Relevant agencies of government in Nigeria must be informed and must be ready to receive the returnees.
“Hard work is now going on at the High Commission and Consulate in this regard. As soon as all procedures and relevant protocols are observed, the return is assured and guaranteed.
“A little more patience will be helpful. The response of Nigerians is just amazing,’’ Bala said.
President, Nigeria Citizens Association, South Africa (NICASA), Ben Okoli, said all efforts were geared towards evacuation of those who were ready to come back home.
Okoli said the figure of those ready to come was in hundreds as many had lost their means of livelihood and had nothing to fall back on.
“The Consulate is sorting out the issue of documents. Nigerians are being registered and issued with the necessary travel documents to enable them make the trip to Lagos.
“Some lost their passports in their homes and businesses from the fire that gutted it, while others had their documents and properties stolen by the locals,’’ he said.
The association, he said, was still pushing ahead with the demand for compensation as there was sufficient evidence available to them that the attacks were premeditated and orchestrated.
He also noted that normalcy was gradually returning, stressing that there was no longer tension, or violence against any set of people.
“The violence and hostility have ceased. Many Nigerians were, however, affected by the crisis and lots have been highly distressed with nothing to fall back on.
“So, some of those affected have decided to call it quits and go back to Nigeria.
“Presently, we are collating the data of Nigerians that are to be evacuated back to Nigeria.
“We have it on good record that the first batch will be leaving on Wednesday.’’
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari’s effort in sending a special envoy to South Africa.
Okoli said that the move was able to boost the morale of the Nigerian community to go about their normal businesses without fear of molestation or attacks.
“We have actually regained some strength knowing that our government is backing and supporting us, especially at this time.
“So we are no longer afraid because we believe that so long we are doing the right thing, the lawful thing, we have nothing to fear.
“We want to thank President Buhari for the steps he has taken. The special envoy did come to us and pushed the case of Nigerians. We are very grateful and thank him for what he has done so far,’’ he said.
Okoli also commended the Management of Air Peace for offering to airlift Nigerians home and urged the airline to endeavour to airlift all Nigerians who were ready to return home.