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Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, says the House will investigate the tough diplomatic stance of the Egyptian authorities to deny access to Nigerians fleeing war-torn Sudan.
Mr. Gbajabiamila stated this in a meeting with the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Zubair Dada on Tuesday; Director General, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs Social Development, Nasir Gwarzo; and other government officials.
The meeting was held at the National Assembly complex.
While reacting to the status report on the ongoing evacuation, Gbajabiamila expressed his displeasure with the attitude of the Egyptians during the evacuation.
“The fact that the borders are open in Egypt is also encouraging. But we will take it up in parliament to find out why they didn’t open the borders in time, especially in a time of crisis like this.
“We are happy that all 5,500 Nigerians who are ready to leave Khartoum have been evacuated and are on their way home to Nigeria,” he said.
Mr. Gbajabiamila also said the House would review the law that made the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) the agency responsible for these evacuations for a possible revision.
The speaker said that this has become necessary due to the gaps seen in the current evacuation operations, as seen in the overlapping roles of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs; Humanitarian development, disaster management and social development; Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM); and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
Giving details of the evacuation operations, Mr. Gwarzo noted that Nigeria responded to the situation immediately using a multi-sectoral approach involving his ministry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and NiDCOM, the plans faced some initial challenges.
He said Sudan’s isolation from the outside world as a country with loose financial operations made it difficult for emergency funds to move easily.
Mr. Gwarzo added that the initial hurdles had been resolved, saying all Nigerians willing to return home had been evacuated by bus to Port Sudan from where they would be airlifted.
“Our work is 24 hours a day and we are in contact with all student groups.
“Some of the videos you see on social media are exaggerated and most of the issues are already well taken care of,” said the permanent secretary.
Up to five airlines, including a Sudanese carrier, would be involved in the airlift, while another option of traveling with sea vessels was also being considered for the seven-day duration.
It was announced by NEMA The first batch of 1,600 Nigerians were evacuated they were expected to arrive in Abuja last Friday. However, they were not allowed to cross the Egyptian border with Sudan
However, the Nigerian government said on Monday that Egyptian authorities had opened their country’s border for 5,500 Nigerians fleeing Sudan to cross after President Muhammadu Buhari’s intervention.
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