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South Africa government frustrating repatriation – Air Peace CEO

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Air Peace flight attendants hold placards to denounce xenophobia as a first group of Nigerians repatriated from South Africa following xenophobic violence arrives in Lagos, on September 11, 2019. – Almost 200 Nigerian migrants were repatriated from South Africa on September 11 following a wave of xenophobic violence that swept through the country and sparked sharp exchanges between the two countries. A flight carrying 189 Nigerians landed in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos, with some of those onboard punching the air and singing their national anthem while waving pictures of burnt shops. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)


South Africa government has been accused of frustrating the efforts of the private-owned airline Air Peace from the repatriation of Nigerians back to the country.

Air Peace Chief Allen Onyeama in an interview with Arise TV said South African deputy ministers of security claimed “Nigeria wasn’t repatriating people” and the aircraft was sent by the whims of a private aircraft owner without permission from the Nigerian High Commission.

This is despite the official announcement by Nigeria’s Consul General Godwin Adama announcing the immediate repatriation of Nigerians in South Africa on September 9th.

Bashir Ahmad, an assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari, said the president gave “instruction for the immediate voluntary evacuation of all Nigerians who are willing to return home”.

“What we did hit them,” Onyema told Arise TV. “They couldn’t believe it.”

This wasn’t the first of South Africa’s government’s frustrating the intervention of Nigerian repatriation.

South Africa’s Immigration Committee reportedly arrested several voluntary returnees delaying the evacuation for a week on claims of passengers possessing incorrect documentation.

Of the 317 people prepared for evacuation, only 182 were permitted to travel by the South African Immigration.

The airline was denied landing permit earlier on Tuesday to continue the evacuation of willing Nigerians.

Onyema had said the refusal of South Africa to grant the permit made it impossible for the flight to leave Lagos at 1 am for Johannesburg to convey the second batch of returnees.

But Nigeria’s Consul- General in Johannesburg, Godwin Adama told News Agency of Nigeria that South African authorities later granted the airline the permit.

Onyema dismissed suggestions that Air Peace will suspend evacuation flights, stating instead that Air Peace is willing to deploy a bigger aircraft with capacity for 367 passengers to bring home Nigerians trapped in South Africa.

He claimed he’s currently working with the Nigerian high commissioner in South Africa regarding evacuating another set of Nigerians from the country.

An Air Peace spokesman claims the delays cost the airline upwards of 300 million naira, and they expect the South African government to pay the difference.


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