At least 256 Nigerians evacuated from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) arrived Lagos Wednesday night.
They arrived the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, via an Emirates Airline flight.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, confirmed their arrival in a series of tweets on Wednesday night.
“The flight conveying 256 Nigerians evacuated from Dubai has landed Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos,” he tweeted via his verified handle.
The evacuated Nigerians were expected to arrive Nigeria earlier but had to make a detour after one of the passengers went into labour.
“Presidential Taskforce on #COVID19 Press briefing: with regards to the evacuation of Nigerians back home – A woman went into labour on the evacuation flight from UAE today. The flight had to return to land. Mother and child are doing very well in hospital.
“The flight is now back on its way to Nigeria, and should arrive 7.00pm today. In regards to @NigeriaGov patronizing Nigerian airlines: we did a bidding process when it was decided to bring our nationals home, we intend to utilize the services of Nigerian airlines for the evacuation process. We have been speaking with our domestic airlines. The @emirates airline evacuating Nigerians has nothing to do with Government,” he tweeted.
Onyeama explained that the government of UAE decided to repatriate foreigners to various countries not just Nigeria.
“They informed Nigerians who are willing to come back that there is a flight going to Nigeria. Nigerians spontaneously without any reference to the Nigerian government started buying tickets.
“The British Airways was also because the flight was already coming to Nigeria to repatriate British nationals here. There are about 4,000 Nigerians abroad awaiting evacuation to Nigeria.
“I’ve given personal directives to our Missions in the U.S. to get in touch with our domestic airlines and see the ones that can come and give them timelines in which to deliver.
“I have been in touch with three Nigerian airlines, @AzmanAir, @flyairpeace and Max Air and we are hoping to finalise a deal,” he tweeted.
The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission confirmed the arrival of the evacuated Nigerians in a separate tweet Wednesday night.