The minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, has reassured federal government’s commitment to return all stranded Nigerians from Libya.
Onyeama gave the assurance when he received 491 Nigerian returnees from Libya at Port Harcourt International Airport, alongside Rivers government officials.
The minister said there were stories of exploitation and suffering by stranded Nigerians in Libya, which compelled federal government to act decisively.
He added that: “We made it clear to the Libyan government that we want to see all Nigerians there. We insisted that we should see all of them, instead of hearing from them.
“We made it clear that they (Libyans) are signatories to international conventions and we expected them to have control of those who guard our children.
“They cooperated with us because of respect for Mr President, there were people who were making money from these children and did not want them to return home.
“We carried out rigorous outreach to ensure that we have everybody back.”
The minister noted that the programme was a continuous process that would return all stranded Nigerians from Libya.
The minister explained that “the Libyan Government got the message that as far as they are Nigerians, we have zero tolerance for molestation.”
The Secretary to the Rivers State Government (SSG), Sir Kenneth Kobani, who led the state delegation, commended President Muhammadu Buhari for making efforts in returning the stranded Nigerians.
He said: “As a state government, we had no choice really, let me say that the Rivers State Governor made it clear to me that we should do everything possible to make sure that this exercise was handled smoothly.
“The Rivers state government would do everything in its power to assist federal agencies handling this programme, because above everything else, we are all Nigerians and this programme is a clear indication that when we work together, we can achieve anything.
“What you are seeing here today clearly shows that our governor and indeed the President feel same about this issue.
“On behalf of the Rivers state governor, Mr Nyesom Wike, I will like to thank President Muhammadu Buhari, the minister of Foreign Affairs and his team who worked tirelessly to make the return of our brothers and sisters successful.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that all the returnees were profiled at designated booths at the airport.
NAN reports that the minister was accompanied by officials from the Nigerian Immigration Service, NEMA NAPTIP and military personnel.
Meanwhile, the first batch of 540 stranded Nigerians returned to the country after screening and confirmation of their nationality in Libya.
Voice of Ndigbo gathered from a Nigerian Facebook user, Sumner Shagari Sambo, that a total number of 5,037 returnees from Libya are to be evacuated back to Nigeria in a process coordinated by a federal government delegation led by the ministry of foreign affairs, NEMA, NAPTIP and other agencies.