Nigerian students who have been evacuated from Sudan will no longer arrive in Nigeria Friday as earlier announced by the government, PREMIUM TIMES can authoritatively report.
Sources within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM) who have no clearance to speak to the media told this newspaper that evacuees would not return due to logistics and diplomatic issues.
According to the ministry source, “As of 0700hrs on 28th April 2023, nine buses have arrived at the Sudanese side of the Arkin border, and four buses have also arrived at the Wadi Halfa border. They are waiting for clearance from the Sudanese end to cross to the Egyptian side.
“Wadi Halfa border is the one approved for our people, and this was communicated to our Mission in Khartoum. However, the fact that some of the drivers chose to go to another border post (about 200 km) away from the approved entry point, we have raised another team to go there and assist.”
The source added that there are thousands of people at the borders and as such there will be delays in getting Nigerians into Egypt.
In a similar tone, the source at NiDCOM noted that there are “not so serious” diplomatic hitches at the border and the Nigerian embassy in Egypt is trying to get diplomatic cover for the students.
“It appears Egypt wants the students to be profiled,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.
In another development, NiDCOM in a statement signed by Gabriel Odu said over 7,000 people, including Nigerians, fleeing Sudan have been denied access to Egypt since their arrival late Thursday evening.
According to the statement, NiDCOM’s boss, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, called on those concerned with passages and movement of persons and services along contiguous borders of Sudan to create a humane condition to allow unfettered access.
“She added that the Nigerian mission in Egypt has been working tirelessly on this as the Egyptian authorities are insisting on visas by fellow Africans to transit back to their countries,” Mr Odu said.
None of the sources could say for certain when the challenges would be resolved and when the Nigerians would return to their country.
However, the agencies involved had expressed readiness to airlift the Nigerian evacuees immediately after they arrive in Sudan.
NiDCOM and NEMA at different times announced that about 1,600 Nigerian evacuees from Sudan were expected in Abuja on Friday.
Officially, there are about 5,500 Nigerian students who are expected to arrive from Sudan in the evacuation that commenced on Wednesday.
According to NEMA, 13 buses conveyed the first batch of the evacuees from Khartoum in Sudan to Egypt from where they will be airlifted to Nigeria.
Nigeria has hired a total of 40 buses for the evacuation.
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