The first group of 187 Nigerians in South Africa returned to Nigeria after the xenophobic attacks.
The Nigeria News Agency (NAN) reports that the returnees were helped by the federal government with the assistance of a Nigerian carrier, Air Peace.
The B777, with registration number 5N-BWI, departing from Thambo international airport, Johannesburg, landed on the merchant wing of Lagos’s Murtala Muhammed international airport, at 21:37.
Among the returnees there were adults, children and babies, who expressed their joy in returning home healthy and sang the national anthem of Nigeria.
They were received by the President of the Diaspora Commission of Nigeria, Ms. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, the President of Air Peace, Mr. Allen Onyema and government representatives who included the National Agency for Emergency Management (NEMA ), the Immigration Service of Nigeria and the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria.
Dabiri-Erewa told reporters that over 600 Nigerians expressed interest in returning from South Africa, adding that the government was ready to help them settle in the country through its various social intervention programs.
He said that the Industry Bank has also mobilized to help those who wish to acquire professional skills.
According to her, commissions will be granted to these Nigerians so that they can return to their respective states, while the telecommunications company, MTN, will also give them pre-loaded Sim cards of 6,000 to help them.
Onyema told reporters that the airline spent more than N300 million to transport affected Nigerians in an attempt to support the federal government.
“We want to send a signal to the world that Nigerians are their brother’s keepers and
“I support the Federal Government and President Muhammadu Buhari and this gesture is an assistance to the government to bring our brothers back home.
“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,” Onyema said.
Two of the returnees, Mr John Onuoha from Abia and Jude Anthony from Edo, told newsmen that they were unjustly attacked by South Africans, who destroyed their businesses and properties in fresh xenophobic attacks which began on Aug. 29.
They praised Air Peace for the kind gesture, stressing that there was no place like home.