* as aircraft leaves for Johannesburg
The first batch of Nigerians evacuated from South Africa will arrive the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, our correspondent learnt on Tuesday.
Air Peace, Nigeria’s foremost carrier, which is airlifting free of charge, said tonight that about 320 persons would be brought back into the country.
The flight, it was gathered would land at the Hajj and Cargo terminal of the Lagos airport where returnees from Libya and other countries are usually received. The estimated time of arrival of the flight is 1:00pm Nigerian time.
Our correspondent gathered that the 777 aircraft belonging to the airline left the MMIA Tuesday night to Oliver Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg. It would then depart South Africa by 9:00 am South Africa time to arrive in Nigeria in the afternoon.
Nigerian Consul General to South Africa, Godwin Adama, described Air Peace offer to bring back Nigerians stranded in South Africa in the wake of the xenophobic attack as unprecedented.
Air Peace Chairman, Allen Onyema said the airline decided to airlift Nigerians in order to support the federal government.
In a chat with newsmen, he said: “We want to send a signal to the world that Nigerians are their brother’s keeper and I support the federal government and President Muhammadu Buhari who would have done the same as private citizen, knowing the role he played when Nigeria faced similar challenge as a military officer.
“We are offering free trip to Nigerians in South Africa to return home after going through the traumatic experience of the attacks. Air Peace has said this is free and we are doing it in solidarity with the federal government.”
Daily Trust reports that the flight was scheduled for last Saturday but it was postponed because most of the returnees did not have valid travel documents which prompted the Nigerian embassy in South Africa to get them travel pass. About 640 are said to have indicated interest to return home.