The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that the 230 Nigerian football fans stranded in Russia at the end of the 2018 World Cup Tournament would be evacuated Friday.
The Ministry’s spokesperson, Tope Elias-Fatile, said in a statement that the stranded Nigerians had been cleared to board an Ethiopian Airline flight to Abuja.
Elias-Fatile said the aircraft arrived Moscow from Addis Ababa at 13.20 hours (local time) yesterday and would depart Domodedovo Airport in Moscow with the stranded Nigerians at 08.30 hours today, Friday, 20th July, 2018 to arrive Abuja at 16.00 hours same day.
President Muhammadu Buhari had, on Monday, July 16, 2018, directed that the stranded Nigerians be evacuated immediately.
Elias-Fatile said the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama has been working very closely with his aviation counterpart, Hadi Sirika to airlift the football fans back to Nigeria.
He said, ”Further to this, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been monitoring the process of the evacuation, which is under the coordination of the Mission of Nigeria in Moscow.”
The plight of the stranded Nigerians came to limelight when over 150 of them besieged the Embassy of Nigeria in Moscow on Thursday 12th July, 2018.
They were among the fans who travelled to the Russian Federation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Tournament and were stranded after the events due to lack of funds for their upkeep as well as alleging that some airline travel agents cancelled return tickets of their customers without their knowledge.
Elias-Fatile said, ”Consequently, the Mission submitted a formal complaint to host authorities against the airlines that brought the stranded Nigerians to the Russian Federation, especially those without return tickets and highlighted that it contravened the rules and regulations of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
”The Mission also made arrangements for the feeding and accommodation of the stranded Nigerians in hostels around Moscow. On Monday 16th of July, 2018, Mr. President directed that they should be evacuated to Abuja immediately.
”Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to monitor the evacuation process and keep the public informed, as appropriate.”