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Nigeria will spend about $1.2 billion (about N550 million) on the rental of luxury buses that will ferry stranded citizens from Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, to Egypt. The citizens will be flown from Egypt to Nigeria, an official said.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said this while addressing reporters at the State House, Abuja at the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported that Nigeria has begun evacuating its citizens from Sudan following recent clashes between security agencies in the North African country.
“Just to give you an update on what is going on with the evacuation of Nigerians in Sudan,” Mr. Onyeama said.
“You remember that the main challenge we faced was getting the permission of the Sudanese government and then getting security support for the convoy.
“Because it has been decided that we will transport or take the Nigerian to the Aswan border in Egypt. We are also in contact with our embassy in Egypt, so we have been able to overcome these challenges and have started the process which we are very happy about.
“We are being charged $1.2 million for all 40 buses. We have huge luxury transporter buses available to take our citizens to the Egyptian border.’
The minister said the bus rental price was increased by the providers because of the risks.
“Of course you know, because of the risks involved and so many other things, many people will also take advantage; you will raise the price.
“We saw that the French convoy was attacked and so on. It was difficult to get these buses. But we had to do it, you know Nigerian lives matter to us.”
No Nigerian was killed
In his comments, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada disclosed that no Nigerian has been killed in Sudan since the conflict broke out on April 15.
The violence pits the regular Sudanese army against a paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The RSF is led by an army general, Mohamed Dagalo, while the Sudanese army is led by another general, Abdel al-Burhan.
“The evacuation is being carried out in batches to ensure the safety of all Nigerians. But the good news is that no Nigerian lives have been lost so far,” Mr Dada said.
“I think it is important to emphasize that all Nigerians are very safe. And we are very confident and hopeful that insha Allah we will not lose any Nigerian lives in this exercise. Everything is fine and we are ready.”
More than 400 people have been killed in Sudan since fighting began, AlJazeera reported.
Mr. Dada said the Nigerian government was making every effort to evacuate as many Nigerians as possible within the 72-hour window given by the Sudanese government.
On whether all Nigerians will be evacuated before the 72-hour window, he said: “We have no problem with the 72-hour window. Because we have spoken to all the authorities and we are on the same page. But talking about the window, we are making every effort to make use of this window as much as we can to assess most Nigerians”.
He also reported that some Nigerians have already been evacuated by boat by the government of Saudi Arabia.
More than 1,000 people arrived in Saudi Arabia by boat from Sudan on Wednesday, most of them foreigners, Saudi officials said.
Mr. Dada’s statement implies that some of those who arrived in Saudi Arabia were Nigerians.
“Let me also add that some Nigerians have been evacuated by boat, I believe from Port Sudan, by the government of Saudi Arabia,” he said.
Don’t forget, this is a joint effort. We have friendly nations that are willing to help, you know, we have to record that the Saudi authorities have been able to pick up some Nigerians, they are being transported by boat, to Saudi Arabia, to Jeddah. exactly. From there, of course, again, we will find a way to tie those who manage to go to Jeddah back from Jeddah,” he said.
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