Sudan: More Frustration for Stranded Nigerians, as Embassy confirms hitches

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The frustration is never-ending for the stranded Nigerian students in war-torn Sudan, as the Embassy continues to face logistical hitches in its attempt to evacuate them out to safety.

It is unending frustration for stranded Nigerian students in war-torn Sudan, as the Embassy continues to experience hitches and delays in efforts to evacuate them out to safety.

Recall that on Wednesday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, disclosed that the Nigerian government hired 40 buses at $1.2 million for the evacuation of Nigerian citizens from the war-torn North African country.

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However, a video emerged on Thursday where some of the students lamented being abandoned in an unknown place in the desert.

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One of the Nigerian students trapped in Sudan, Abubakar Sadiq, told newsmen that the drivers of the buses conveying the students collected their passports from them, insisting that it won’t be returned to them until they are paid completely by the government.

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And in a letter signed by the Chancery of the Nigerian Embassy in Khartoum, and sighted by our correspondent, they did not only confirm their payment hitches but disclosed that the number of stranded Nigerians is way more than 5500 initially projected.

The Nigerian Embassy, in a letter, marked Ref. No: NEKM/POL/03/III, dated April 27th, and addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also copying the State House, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, and NEMA (National Emergency Management Agency), requested the provision for an additional 2000 stranded persons.

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Part of the letter read, “The Embassy has commenced the evacuation exercise yesterday, 26th April 2023, so far 637 people were evacuated using 13 buses. This is against our early arrangement with the company for the releases of 20 buses per day, although, the company had prepared the balance of the 7 buses in the evening but withdrew them because the discussion for payments of the balance with DG NEMA in Cairo did not work out.

“2. Apparently, the company supplied the thirteen buses (13) equivalents to the $400,000 deposit paid less $10,000 ($30000@bus). This morning we don’t foresee the company supplying the additional buses needed to continue the exercise, until the discussion in Cairo is concluded.

“3. While waiting for positive outcome of the above, the Embassy is considering another option should in case the aforementioned did not work out well. Another company was approached and they are ready to supply the remaining 27 buses complete and at once today, at the same price if NEMA and the Mission in Cairo can also pay the money complete and at once today.

“4. The Embassy wishes to inform further that based on the boarding procedure yesterday, only 49 evacuattees boarded per bus. This was against 88 envisaged per bus. Consequently, the 40 buses would not be enough for the 3500 evacuattes. Furthermore, based on the number of Nigerians that came out yesterday, we are likely to go beyond the 3500 schedule for the start of the evacuation. The Mission wishes to advise that preparation should be made for another 2000 to make up to the 5500 earlier projected (Ref. Ref. No: NEKM/POL/03/III_ date 23th April, 2023)

“6. Respectfully submitted for your information and further directives, please.”

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