By Ahmed Ubandoma/Ruth Oketunde/Sumaila Ogbaje
The first batch of 376 Nigerian trapped in war-torn Sudan has arrived in Abuja.
The students arrived at the Pilgrims Terminal of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja at exactly 11:25pm via the Air Peace Plane and the Nigeria Airforce Jet with the number NAF C-130.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the first batch of the students was evacuated from Aswan border of Egypt.
NAN also reports that the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Sadiya Umar-Farouq; the Director General of NEMA; the Chairman/CEO of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission and the Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons were on hand to receive the returnees.
Speaking shortly after their arrival, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management announced the donation of a N100,000 stipend to each of the returnees courtesy of Dangote Foundation, while MTN Foundation donated 25GB data and recharge cards worth N25,000 to each of the returnees.
She said the N100,000 stipend donated by Dangote Foundation was for the returnees to use as transport fare to travel to their varous destinations with ease.
Also speaking, the Sudanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Mohammad Yusuf, said the situation in Sudan would soon be under control.
Yusuf expressed happiness that Nigeria was able to evacuate its citizens safely.
The envoy, who described Sudan as the second country to many Nigerians, said normalcy would be restored in the war-ravaged country soon.
The Director-General, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Mr Mustapha Ahmed, said that four more flights conveying Nigerians from Sudan are expected in Nigeria on Thursday.
“The situation in Sudan is real and terrible but we pray peace returns to that country. I am happy our people have started coming back.
“We are expecting about four flights tomorrow – three from Port Sudan and one from Aswan. So it is a process that has started and the tempo will keep on increasing.
“This is something that nobody expected and so we had to swing into action immediately. To get out of Sudan, we had to pay, to take our people to any other part, but we thank God that we are able to bring them back,” he said.
He assured the returnees that the remaining evacuees waiting to be transported back home would soon arrive.
Some of the evacuees who spoke to NAN expressed mixed feelings over the situation in Sudan.
Mr Ibrahim Musa, a student who lived on the outskirts of the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, said he was devastated when he first heard the sound of gunshots and grenade explosion.
”The first thing that came to my mind was to escape and I thank God this is where I am now – home,” he said.
Another evacuee, Mrs Faith Stephen, a pregnant woman, said she would go back to Sudan once the situation in that country stabilised.
Stephen said that she and her husband had invested so much in Sudan and were engaged in a thriving joint business.(NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Emmanuel Yashim