No Nigerians died in Sudan says FG

*As Airlift begins tomorrow

•Buses arrived Tuesday night to evacuate students to Egypt

•FG spends $1.2m to evacuate Nigerians to Egypt

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Juliet Umeh & Fortune Eromosele

The airlift of students and other Nigerians stranded in war-torn Sudan would begin tomorrow, the Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, said yesterday.

Onyema spoke on a day the Nigerian in Diaspora Commission, NiDCOM, said it had mobilised buses to Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, to evacuate the students and other Nigerians to the Egyptian border from where they would be airlifted back home.

Recall that the Director, Special Duties of the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, Dr. Onimode Bandele, had said in an interview on Channels Television Monday that the evacuation of over 2,000 of the students would commence on Tuesday but this didn’t happen.

NiDCOM, however, confirmed in a statement yesterday that the evacuation of the students would start late yesterday.

But speaking in an interview on Arise TV yesterday, the Air Peace chief, Onyema, said the airlift of the students from Cairo, the Egyptian capital, would start tomorrow.

According to him, three wide-bodied Boeing 777 aircraft will be deployed to Cairo today for the airlift starting tomorrow.

”Yes, we will begin the airlift of the stranded students and other Nigerians on Friday (tomorrow) but the planes will be dispatched on Thursday (today).

”the reason we are deploying the planes on Thursday is the fact that the buses conveying them from Sudan to Egypt will spend two days on the road to arrive there late Thursday (today), so we can begin the airlift the next day.

”We are currently in touch with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nigerian mission in Cairo on this,” Onyema said.

On how the students would know where and when the airlift would commence, Onyema said the Nigerian mission was liaising with the students to inform them of the plans.

On why the airline was always involved in free airlift of Nigerians in dire situations, the Air Peace boss said it was informed by the desire to foster Nigeria’s unity.

He said: ”It is painful that the diversity of the country, which should be a source of strength, is now a source of division.

”This is a Nigerian project and not a tribal thing, as some people are already alluding on social media. It is unfortunate that we bring tribalism into everything we do in the country. So, airlifting Nigerians free from troubled zones across the world is our own way of promoting Nigerian unity.”

Buses finally arrived Tuesday night to evacuate Nigerian students to Egypt

Also yesterday, the Nigerian in Diaspora Commission, NiDCOM, said buses hired to evacuate Nigerian students amid the ongoing crisis in Sudan finally arrived Khartoum late Tuesday.

In a statement issued yesterday, NiDCOM said the buses would take the students to the Egyptian border.

The students are thereafter expected to be airlifted from Egypt to Nigeria.

”Last night (Tuesday), the Nigeria evacuation team in SUDAN received some buses to transport Nigerian students to nearby borders in Egypt, before airlifting them to Nigeria.

”This has been sorted by Federal Government through @nemanigeria and the Nigerian Embassy in Sudan.

“More buses are arriving this morning (yesterday) and the stranded students will depart today,” the commission said, adding that the students were undergoing registration, ahead of departure.

FG spends $1.2m to evacuate Nigerians to Egypt

Meanwhle, the Federal Government said yesterday it has spent $1.2m to deploy 40 buses for the evacuation of about 2,400 stranded Nigerians out of Sudan.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He said the amount for the evacuation included the provision of security cover for the eight-hour journey from Luxol to Cairo and the eleven-hour trip from Aswan to Cairo, Egypt.

The minister said the outcome of the proceedings at the council meeting was overshadowed by plans of the federal government to safely evacuate its citizens from the war-torn Sudan.

Although the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces agreed to halt hostilities at midnight Monday, local media reports that fighting had resumed, even as a hospital was shelled yesterday.

Onyeama, who noted that no Nigerian life had been lost to the conflict, said there were no talks about alternative plans for continued education for the evacuees, most of whom are students of the University of Khartoum.

Recall that about 40 buses were sent to move Nigerians out of Khartoum and other troubled parts of Sudan early yesterday.

The Nigerian Diaspora Commission had explained that the evacuation planned for Tuesday failed due to logistic challenges.

Chairperson of the Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, confirmed that the new travel plans were finalised Tuesday night.

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