Doosuur Iwambe, Abuja
The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission has announced the return of 384 Nigerians from the United Arab Emirates.
The returnees are part of the 802 Nigerians stranded in Saudi Arabia that the Nigerian government had promised would be evacuated to Nigeria on Thursday and Friday.
Announcing the return of the first batch, NIDCOM said out of the 384 returnees, 300 are males while 83 are females with one infant whose gender the Commission didn’t disclose.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs disclosed that the second batch will arrive in the country on Friday and would be received at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, by the ministry’s officials.
He however said the Nigerian government does not support illegal migration.
The evacuation of the stranded Nigerians follows a call for help my them in a video that went viral recently on social media.
The videos showed bodies – wrapped in black polythene bags – lying on the floor in a packed room with a voice narrating that they have been stranded for more than seven months.
The Chairman of NIDCOM, Abike Dabiri-Erewa while responding to the viral video depicting Nigerians pleading to be returned from Saudi Arabia assured that they will be evacuated from the Muslim country by January 28th and 29th.
She attributed the delay to the coronavirus pandemic as both countries bickered over the responsibility of paying for COVID-19 tests.
“I can’t confirm the video. However, I know that we have 600 Nigerians that are illegal migrants that would be leaving Saudi Arabia.
“Yesterday we were with the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, and other officials and plans have already been made to get them home before the end of the month pending any unforeseen circumstances,” the NIDCOM boss said.