Nigerian students stranded due to the ongoing crisis in Sudan have accused the Federal Government of abandoning them in Khartoum, the country’s capital.
This is just as the hopes of Nigerians stranded in Sudan returning to Nigeria on Friday were dashed, amid the controversy surrounding their evacuation from the crisis-torn country.
The government had released N150m for hiring 40 buses to convey its desperate citizens from Sudan to Cairo in Egypt.
The money was said to have been paid to an undisclosed transport company on Tuesday at 12:37 pm by the Central Bank of Nigeria through the National Emergency Management Agency.
This was as the Federal Government on Thursday said that the Nigerian Air Force, Air Peace, and other airlines had received clearance to fly to Egypt to pick up stranded Nigerians.
The evacuation of 2,400 students and other Nigerians trapped by the ongoing conflict in Sudan took off on a slow start on Wednesday as only 15 out of the 40 buses required for the exercise were provided.
Despite the end of the ceasefire by the warring Sudanese forces, stranded Nigerians, especially students, said the embassy had not provided any buses for evacuation as of Thursday.
But speaking with Saturday PUNCH on Friday, the President of the Association of Yoruba Student Union in Sudan, Mubarak Ahmed, said, “Students are still here in Khartoum, stuck. The government and the embassy here in Khartoum are playing cats and dogs with our lives.
“Evacuations are still ongoing for other nationals regardless of the cease-fire. The cease-fire is not an issue but the government is not ready to evacuate us.
“One of us needs a dental intervention because he was attacked three days ago while going to get water. Two or three of his teeth were removed and bleeding profusely internally and externally.
“We could not do much because we lack first aid and hospitals are shut down. We could only stitch the injury but not pretty good and he is among those stranded till now, (he is) a student at the International University of Africa. They are just confusing everybody,” Ahmed added.
As of 6:45pm on Friday, the President of the Nasarawa State Students Association in Sudan, Al-Ameen Ahmad, said, “Three buses came and left because the drivers said they are yet to be paid. No food, no water, no network. I do not know who keeps telling the government that buses are available to pick up trapped students. We are suffering.”
But the spokesperson for the National Emergency Management Agency, Ezekiel Manzo, blamed the problem on a border issue.
“The border issue is the cause of the delay because all arrangements are in place. We are the ones that arranged for their road trip from Khartoum down to Aswan. We also have arrangements for their airlifting.
“But the problem is the border for them to cross into Egypt and that is the reason why their arrival in Abuja today (Friday) will no longer be possible. Assuming they are already in Egypt, the promised time for their arrival would still have been possible today.
“They are still at the border. So, we have to wait. I am not justifying this but these nationals are escaping from a war zone, and it is natural for the government of Egypt to tighten up its nodes around the border.
However, the Embassy of Nigeria in Sudan has said the second batch of the evacuation of stranded Nigerians in Khartoum to Egypt will commence on Saturday (today).
This was contained in a statement signed by the Charge d’ Affairs, H. Y. Garko, on Friday.
The first batch of evacuation took place on Wednesday.
The statement read, “The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Sudan, wishes to inform all Nigerian citizens who wish to be evacuated from the crisis in Sudan, that the embassy will commence the second phase of evacuation to Egypt for onward airlift to Nigeria, tomorrow (today) April 29, 2023.
“All those interested are expected to converge at Al-Razi University (Al-Azhari) and the International University of Africa (Madani Street) in the morning. Individuals are required to come along with one bag only. Please, adhere strictly.”
Similarly, the Federal Government on Friday called on relevant authorities along contiguous borders of Sudan to create a humane condition for about 7,000 nationals, including Nigerians, to have unfettered access to their various destinations.
The Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who made this call, said the nationals were not being allowed to cross the border into Egypt since their arrival on Thursday evening.
Meanwhile, no fewer than 10 Nigerians were among the 2,544 nationals evacuated by the Republic of Saudi Arabia from Sudan, according to a statement by the Saudi Arabia Embassy in Nigeria made available to our correspondent on Friday.
The embassy said 119 were Saudi citizens while 2,425 were from 74 countries, including Nigeria.
The statement read in part, “In continuation of the evacuation efforts being made by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia under the directives of the kingdom’s leaderships, more evacuees continue to arrive Jeddah Port from the Republic of Sudan on Thursday, bringing the total number of evacuees from Sudan since the evacuations began at approximately 2,544 persons, 119 are Saudi citizens while 2425 are from 74 countries among which 10 are from Nigeria.”