A total of 188 Nigerians arrived Lagos last night from South Africa on board an Air Peace flight MEN2759. The returnees landed around 9:30pm, becoming the first set of Nigerians to be repatriated from South Africa over xenophobic attacks.
The Air Peace flight, which left Nigeria 11:30pm yesterday, arrived OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg about 4:00am as Nigerians turned up for the airlift. South African authorities were earlier accused of trying to frustrate the repatriation.
Sources at the High Commission in Johannesburg said after the Commission had prepared the first 320 Nigerians for the first evacuation, the South Africa Immigration was arresting Nigerians who are due to travel.
The Nigerian High Commission had prepared travel documents for returning Nigerians, but it was learnt that the immigration was still challenging them demanding to know how they got into their country.
A source said: “South Africa is frustrating Nigeria. The Air Peace aircraft has been there since 4:00am. Their Immigration started giving our High Commission problems. They said some Nigerians didn’t have papers. Immigration is arresting them, asking them to explain how they came to South Africa.
“About five minutes ago, only 182 Nigerians were allowed to board the flight while the rest are being barred by South African Immigration. They are frustrating the Nigerian High Commission, taking the passengers away. They want to frustrate the airline and the Nigerian government.
“Our High Commission is having tough time with the South African government. They are stopping and arresting Nigerians, saying they should explain how they came into the country.”
Another source said: “The aircraft has been burning fuel since 4:00am. They are not happy that Nigeria is evacuating its citizens and that a Nigerian airline is involved in evacuating them.”