Ministry not frustrating evacuation of Nigerian students in Saudi Arabia

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Minister of External Affairs Godfrey Onyema

THE Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denied suggestions that it was frustrating the evacuation process of Nigerian students in Saudi Arabia.

Spokesperson for the ministry, Mr Ferdinand Nwonye, in a statement on Thursday in Abuja, said that claims to that effect were “totally false.”

Nwonye dismissed the accusations by students that the Embassy of Nigeria in Riyadh and the Consul General of Nigeria in Jedda refused to facilitate their evacuation.

He said, “the attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been drawn to a misleading video in circulation, fabricated by some misguided, unpatriotic and ungrateful Nigerian students in Saudi Arabia.

“There are also attendant media reports alleging that the Government of Nigeria, particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Embassy of Nigeria in Riyadh and the Consulate General of Nigeria in Jedda, have deliberately refused to facilitate their evacuation to Nigeria for holiday, since May 15, 2020.

“The group further alleged that government failed to secure flight clearance and landing permit for the Saudi Arabian Airlines to airlift Nigerians from the Kingdom.

“The Nigerian Mission in Saudi Arabia, in line with guidelines for the evacuation of Nigerian nationals stranded in different parts of the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has been engaging relevant host authorities to facilitate the evacuation of Nigerians from the Kingdom.”

Nwonye said that though the Saudi Airlines fixed July 8 and August 1, “neither the Embassy of Nigeria in Riyadh nor the Consulate General of Nigeria in Jedda was informed, which is against the spirit of established diplomatic protocols, hence the inability to operate the said flights.”

He said that the embassy officials did not demand for any commission or graft from the airlines as insinuated by the students. 

The spokesperson recalled that the Embassy of Nigeria in the Kingdom successfully facilitated the evacuation of 117 Nigerians from the Kingdom.

Nwonye specifically recalled that the Nigerians were evacuated via Azman Air Services Limited, Flight No: ZQ381, on July 19.

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