By Adedayo Akinwale
The federal government has denied frustrating the evacuation process of stranded Nigerian students from Saudi Arabia.
The Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ferdinand Nwoye, said yesterday that the unfortunate allegations by the “misinformed students” were absolutely false and should be disregarded.
Nwoye said: “The attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been drawn to a misleading video in circulation, fabricated by some misguided, unpatriotic and ungrateful Nigerian Students in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and attendant media reports alleging that the government of Nigeria, particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja; the Embassy of Nigeria in Riyadh and the Consulate General of Nigeria in Jedda, have deliberately refused to facilitate their evacuation to Nigeria for holiday since 15th May, 2020.”
Nwoye said the group further alleged that the Embassy of Nigeria in Riyadh and the Consulate General of Nigeria in Jedda refused to issue permits to students to travel home and failed to secure Over Flight Clearance and Landing Permit for the Saudi Arabian Airlines – SAUDIA to airlift Nigerians from the Kingdom.
He noted that the Nigerian Mission in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in line with federal government guidelines for the evacuation of Nigerian nationals stranded in different parts of the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been engaging relevant host authorities to facilitate the evacuation of Nigerians from the Kingdom.
Nwoye explained that though the Saudi Airlines fixed 8th July and 1st August, 2020 respectively, the Airline never informed the Embassy of the dates or sought for approval of the proposed dates from Nigeria either through the Embassy of Nigeria in Riyadh or the Consulate General of Nigeria in Jedda, which it said was against the spirit of established diplomatic protocols, hence the inability to operate the said flights.
He stated categorically that the embassy officials did not demand for any commission of graft from the airlines as insinuated by the “misinformed select Nigerian students,” whose allegations have since been condemned and refuted by the leadership of Nigerian Students in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Nwoye recalled that the Embassy of Nigeria in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia successfully facilitated the evacuation of 117 Nigerians from the Kingdom via Azman Air Services Limited, Flight No: ZQ381 of 19th July, 2020, and is committed in ensuring that the right processes and established guidelines are adhered to in the evacuation of Nigerian nationals.