In conjunction with the International Organisation for Immigration (IOM), no fewer than 100 Nigerians, including women and children, were Monday repatriated from Tunisia.
This is coming seven months after 26 illegal immigrants including eight Nigerians were repatriated by Mozambique immigration authorities and will bring to 686 Nigerians that have been evacuated from Tunisia, Libya and Gabon since 2011.
According to the information made available to Thisday, out of the 90 returnees, 17 are females, while 73 are males including 14 teenagers.
Also, amongst the returnees were a five-month-old baby and a year old toddler. While 77 of the returnees were from Edo State, eight were from Delta State and the others were drawn from Lagos, Imo, Kano, and Plateau States.
Also Thisday gathered that the IOM, a United Nations body in the forefront of repatriating nationals of other countries from war-torn countries, had written the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) on its plan to evacuate the affected persons who were victims of the Arab Spring uprising in Tunisia.
The Arab Spring revolution in Tunisia in 2011 resulted in the overthrow of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali leading to the conduct of the first free elections in the country.
However, the after effects of the revolution saw some Nigerians displaced and their source of livelihood disrupted, turning some of them into refugees, which prompted the intervention of the IOM.
Although the returnees were expected to arrive the Cargo Wing of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) at about 1 pm Monday, NEMA officials were however notified around 5 pm that the returnees were yet to take off following the late arrival of the aircraft’s landing permit.
Information made available to THISDAY revealed that the chartered aircraft conveying the returnees would arrive Lagos at 2.30 am today.
In an interview with THISDAY, NEMA’s South West Coordinator, Mr. Iyiola Akande, said the returnees voluntarily opted to come back home due to the situation in Tunisia.
According to him, the returnees confessed that they had suffered badly as a result of the revolution in Tunisia and opted to come home.
He said: “When the returnees signified their willingness to come home, the IOM graciously provided an aircraft to bring them back. Those that need treatment would be attended to and then provisions would be made to enable them go back to their home states.
“We want to ensure that they are integrated into the society well and will also encourage them to stay in Nigeria and work hard.
“We want our people to know that the economy is not as bad as it was and there are several economic opportunities they can tap into rather than travelling out.
“The transformation agenda going on at the moment gives everyone the opportunity to be gainfully employed and there is no way anyone who is willing to work will not find a niche.”