Why 600 Nigerians Haven’t Been Evacuated From Saudi Arabia – Dabiri-Erewa

 

The Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa has responded to a viral video depicting Nigerians pleading to be returned from Saudi Arabia.

While Ms Dabiri-Erewa said she could not verify the video, she confirmed that 600 Nigerians are currently awaiting deportation from the Muslim country.

READ ALSO: About 600 Stranded Nigerians In Saudi Arabia Call For Help

The NIDCOM chief, who appeared on Channels Televisions flagship News At 10 late Friday, attributed the delay to the coronavirus pandemic as both countries bickered over the responsibility of paying for COVID-19 tests.

While noting that the 600 are now set to be returned home by the end of January, Ms Dabiri-Erewa urged Nigerians to shun illegal migration.

Below is an edited transcript of Ms Erewa-Dabiri’s interview:

CTV: Are you in touch with these Nigerians?

Dabiri-Erewa: I can’t confirm the video. But I know that we have 600 Nigerians that are illegal migrants, that would be leaving Saudi Arabia. Yesterday we were with the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, and other officials and plans have already been made to get them home before the end of the month pending any unforeseen circumstances.

It’s been on for a while. Saudi Arabia said they want to rid their country of illegal migrants and they gave them deadlines; and different countries have been taking away their citizens, and Nigeria will do the same thing. But there’s been delays, dates have been changed because of COVID-19, and there have been arguments about who’s responsible for the tests; but everything has been resolved and like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says, they should be home before the end of the month.

What condition are they – the 600 – in at the moment?

They are in a deportation camp awaiting to be returned to Nigeria at the moment. And like I said, they are from different nationalities, different countries, not only Nigerians because Saudi Arabia actually packed the illegal immigrants and said they should all return to their countries once they don’t have proper documentation.

Of course, a deportation camp is never the best place to be and that is why the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been working hard to get them back home. And I’ll keep saying, we need to really discourage irregular migration. It’s getting tougher, more dangerous, more difficult to survive as an irregular migrant anywhere in the world.

So one of the things we will be doing is massive awareness of the dangers of irregular migration. Now, this 600 will come back, and don’t be surprised you will still hear tears and cries of ‘oh we are irregular migrants, we are stranded, bring us back home’. So we really have to ensure that we put a stop to this issue of irregular migration. It’s dangerous, it’s deadly, and where you are running to ends up being worse than where you are running away from. So that’s actually the issue we have to deal with as a nation.

What sort of measures is being put in place to stop this?

It’s actually something that every Nigerian should be involved in, not just the government. But on the part of the government, we should work at having a managed migration. Okay, these people are going to work . . . they just want to work. And the people need their services. So why can’t we work at having a properly documented managed migration? Some other countries are doing that. The Philippines does it. They come to you properly and you know what they are being paid. It’s even said they make as much as $6 billion from that. So, really, irregular migration can become regular. It can be made possible to be legal because they need these services. It doesn’t have to be done in an irregular manner. That’s one of the things Nigeria must do, working with other countries. The Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Labour should come together and see the next steps to be taken in this regard.

A file photo of NIDCOM boss, Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

 

But for all of us, we need to discourage our citizens from traveling irregularly. President Buhari instructed a delegation to go to Libya. Under his leadership, Nigeria brought back about 7,000 irregular migrants. The International Organisation for Migration played a big role in bringing back Nigerians regularly from Libya. But guess what, we still have stories of people going there. There should be massive awareness, each one talking to the next person; don’t encourage this kind of irregular migration. I was surprised that even on social media, some will say we should still go because the country is so bad. Out there, it is worse. And the government has some things in place that the youths can key into. There are programs. It’s not going to fetch you big money, but you can survive with it.

So we need to talk to young Nigerians. There are opportunities you can key into. It’s tough, we know – Government needs to provide jobs. But we need to also encourage one another that this is a dangerous, torturous journey, and it’s not worth it. If you survived it three years ago, not anymore in today’s age and time.

VIRAL VIDEO: About 600 Stranded Nigerians In Saudi Arabia Call For Help

This screenshot from a viral video seen by Channels Television on January 22, 2021, shows stranded Nigerians in Saudi Arabia.
This screenshot from a viral video seen by Channels Television on January 22, 2021, shows stranded Nigerians in Saudi Arabia.

 

Some Nigerians have been stranded in Saudi Arabia for more than seven months, according to a video circulating on social media.

Channels Television can not independently verify the video or the individual who made it but Chairman of the Nigerians In Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, on Friday said “Nigerian irregular migrants in Saudi Arabia are due to be evacuated on the 28th and 29th of January, pending any unforeseen issues.”

The evacuation is expected to be carried out in two batches of 400 and 200 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the NIDCOM chief said.

READ ALSO: Saudi Halts International Flights Over COVID-19 Variant

Ms Dabiri-Erewa’s tweet appeared to confirm the scenes in the viral video, which showed bodies – wrapped in black polythene bags – lying on the floor in a packed room.

“We are here more than three months, six months, seven months ago, without any action, no better information on transport to Nigeria,” the male narrator in the video said.

 

“According to the rules and regulations of this location, we are not supposed to be here for more than two weeks.

“Most nationals of other countries have been flown back to their countries. Only we Nigerians don’t have any source or way of getting back.

“I’m here on behalf of others to seek your assistance to get us back to our country.”

A Twitter user with the handle @KsaApc said some of the affected persons were not able to renew their residencies in the Muslim country.

“I spoke with one of the brothers and he told me that his brother was among the detainees,” the tweet said. “Part of them have ended their stays and do not have the ability to renew and the other does not have regular residencies.”

In her Friday tweet, Ms Abike Dabiri said “their evacuation was delayed due to issues relating to Covid-19.

“We appeal to Nigerians to resist traveling abroad without proper documents. It’s become very dangerous and more difficult”

NIDCOM has serially intervened in cases of stranded Nigerians abroad, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

In August, the agency helped to facilitate the evacuation of 261 Nigerians stranded in China.

We Can’t Blame Tems, Omah Lay For Uganda Experience – Dabiri-Erewa

NIDCOM Boss, Abike Dabiri-Erewa speaks on the recent arrest of Nigerian stars, Tems and Omah Lay in Uganda.

 

The Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, says Nigerian singers, Temilade Openiyi, popularly known as Tems and Stanley Omah Didia, should not be blamed for their ordeal in Uganda.

She disclosed this on Friday during an interview on Channels Television’s Hard Copy in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

“Some people said they committed a crime. In this case, I am sure if they had known, they would not have gone,” she said.

“Ignorance is not an excuse, they listened to the organisers. I don’t think we can blame them for what happened.”

For the NIDCOM chief, the release of the artistes followed diplomatic engagements between the Nigerian government and the Ugandan authorities.

She explained that when the Federal Government got wind of their arrest, Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, contacted his counterpart in Uganda to fast-track their release.

READ ALSO: Omah Lay, Tems Return From Uganda, Charges Dropped

Similarly, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration also got in touch with the Uganda High Commissioner to Nigeria, Nelson Ocheger, who she said was not in the country at the time of their arrest.

To guard against such a recurrence, Dabiri-Erewa, advised stars and other citizens to always notify the Nigerian Embassy of their presence abroad when out of the country.

According to her, the move is necessary because if the two artistes had registered their presence in the Nigerian High Commission in Uganda, they wouldn’t have been in trouble.

“Anybody that travels abroad, have faith in the mission. If the Nigerian mission had known that two of our biggest artistes were in town and they just made their presence known, maybe that would not have happened.

“Anytime you travel, especially there are super stars. Let the mission know that you are there. We get the response that, ‘oh they don’t listen to us.’  But let them know,” she added.

Her remarks come three days after the Ugandan authorities dropped the charges against the popular musicians, after spending three days in detention.

The duo were arrested on December 12 and charged before a Chief Magistrates Court in Makindye for breaching the country’s COVID-19 guidelines.

‘They Will Soon Be Back’: Abike Dabiri Assures Nigerians Of Tems, Omah Lay’s Release

Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa (File Photo)

 

 

The Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri- Erewa, has assured Nigerians that singers, Temilade Openiyi populalrly known as Tems and Stanley Omah Didia, popularly known as Omah Lay who have both been in detention in Uganda, will be released soon.

She gave the assurance on Tuesday via Twitter, after receiving two members of both artistes’ record labels.

“I received Marshall and Valentine, working with @Omah_Lay and Tem’s record label. The good news is that they will soon be back,” she tweeted.

The fast-rising stars were arrested on Monday after performing at a show and flouting COVID-19 guidelines.

Thereafter, they were arraigned at a court in Kampala, Uganda’s capital city.

A tweet by the Ugandan Police Force said they will remain in custody till Wednesday, December 16.

Their arrest was met with outrage, especially on social media, by many fans and Nigerians, who are calling for their immediate release.

The reason for their arrest has also been a subject of debate as many believe it goes beyond flouting the country’s COVID-19 guidelines.

This quickly sparked the hashtags #FreeTems, #FreeOmahLay, which immediately dominated the trends.

In response to the outcry, Dabiri- Erewa had earlier assured that the Nigerian mission in Uganda was attending to the matter.

Read Also: Nigerian Artistes Omah Lay, Tems To Be Remanded In Ugadan Police Custody

“Our mission in Uganda is working on this frantically. You can confirm from their lawyers. Efforts are being made. We will do everything possible to get them freed.

“We must ensure we get them back home, safe and sound and fast,” she wrote.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama, also noted that the Nigerian government was already engaging the Ugandan Authorities at the highest level to ensure their release.

Three Federal Ministries To Intervene In Maltreatment Of Nigerian Traders In Ghana – Dabiri-Erewa

 

At least three federal ministries will be responding to the closure of shops belonging to Nigerians in Ghana, CEO of the Nigerians In Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said on Monday.

The intervention comes after 753 Nigerian traders signed a document asking the federal government to help them return to Nigeria, Ms. Dabiri-Erewa said on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

The ministries include Foreign Affairs, Interior, and Trade and Investment.

“The delegation is in Nigeria to tell the government that they want to return,” Ms. Dabiri-Erewa said. “And 753 actually signed the document that says they want to return to Nigeria.

READ ALSO: ‘Border Closure Not Reason For Maltreatment Of Nigerian Traders In Ghana’

“So with this request from them, what is going on now is that the three ministers involved will have been some engagement with them to see what actually should be the next thing.

“Now you’ve said you want to come to your country, so there should be no problem about that. They are Nigerians and we are proud of them and glad to return them home.

“But they must return to something meaningful. Like one of them said to me when they came to NIDCOM office, a lot of them have been there for over 25 years; so just uprooting yourself for not committing any crime – the only crime they’ve committed is that they are very good at their trade, at their jobs.”

The NIDCOM chief added that President Muhammadu Buhari is on top of the situation but was skeptical about the shops being opened before the Ghanaian elections are held in December.

“Let’s face it, the President of Ghana will not want to go against his own citizens,” she said. “And the majority of the Ghanaian traders have said ‘we don’t want them’. So after the elections, maybe they will now open. But they will close again. So they can’t be pawns in a game of chess in Ghana.”

Border Closure Not Reason For Maltreatment Of Nigerian Traders In Ghana – Dabiri-Erewa

 

The Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa on Monday denied that Nigeria’s decision to close its borders prompted Ghanaian authorities to clamp down on Nigerian traders working in the West African nation.

Hundreds of shops belonging to Nigerians have been closed in Ghana, prompting calls from some of the traders to be repatriated back home.

The Nigerian Government has intervened in the matter previously. In September, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, visited Ghana and met with the Ghanaian President, Nana Akufo-Addo.

On Monday, Dabiri-Erewa, while being interviewed on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, said Ghana’s treatment of Nigerian traders was based on a complex of not being able to compete.

She also said the issue has been going on for years, long before Nigeria decided to close its borders.

The closure, Ms. Dabiri-Erewa added, has impacted negatively on the finances and psychological state of many of the Nigerian traders, leading to suicide in at least one case.

What Dabiri-Erewa Said?

“They are not the same thing actually. There’s a reason why borders were closed. You can’t be bringing in small arms and ammunition and all that and Nigeria will not take action.

“We are talking of people that have been living in your country, working very well for years. Now, I’ll ask you something; if it has to do with the borders, why didn’t they send away the big industries in Ghana; we have six banks in Ghana. Why didn’t they tell them to leave, if they are afraid of border closure? There is the gas pipeline going to Ghana, why don’t you cut it off?

A file photo of Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
A file photo of Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

 

“And I think it boils down to this lack of trust and some kind of complex. Because, these Nigerian traders sell their goods at cheaper prices; you know, Nigerians are very industrious. So the reality is that the Ghanian traders say it is really difficult to compete with the Nigerian traders. And they’ve put it in one million dollars to almost impossible for traders to . . . so let’s leave the issue of border closure.

“This thing has been on for years. In New York, three years ago, Mr President, took up with the Ghanaian President, and he gave an assurance that they are sorry about it and will open the shops. Then they open and close again, to their whims and caprices. I’m sure you will agree with me that we can’t continue like this.”

What Next?

At least three federal ministries will be responding to the issue this week, Ms. Dabiri-Erewa said.

The ministries include Foreign Affairs, Interior, and Trade and Investment.

“The delegation is in Nigeria to tell the government that they want to return,” she said. “And 753 actually signed the document that says they want to return to Nigeria.

“So with this request from them, what is going on now is that the three ministers involved will have been some engagement with them to see what actually should be the next thing.

“Now you’ve said you want to come to your country, so there should be no problem about that. They are Nigerians and we are proud of them and glad to return them home.

“But they must return to something meaningful. Like one of them said to me when they came to NIDCOM office, a lot of them have been there for over 25 years; so just uprooting yourself for not committing any crime – the only crime they’ve committed is that they are very good at their trade, at their jobs.”

The NIDCOM chief added that President Muhammadu Buhari is on top of the situation but was skeptical about the shops being opened before the Ghanaian elections are held in December.

“Let’s face it, the President of Ghana will not want to go against his own citizens,” she said. “And majority of the Ghanaian traders have said ‘we don’t want them’. So after the elections, maybe they will now open. But they will close again. So they can’t be pawns in a game of chess in Ghana.”

COVID-19: 6,317 Nigerians Evacuated From Abroad, Says Dabiri-Erewa

File Photo of Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa

 

The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) says 6,317 Nigerians have been evacuated from abroad.

NIDCOM Chairman, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, disclosed this on Tuesday during a press conference ahead of National Diaspora Day celebrations on July 25.

The evacuation carried out in collaboration with the agency, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Nigerian Missions around the world comes on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected the globe.

Giving a breakdown of the figures, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has the highest evacuees with 1,405, followed closely by the United Kingdom with 831 and the United States with 806 Nigerians stranded Nigerians repatriated in three batches.

Other countries where Nigerians have departed include Saudi Araba – 117, Egypt – 372, France – 70, India – 540, Turkey – 324, Sudan – 365, Uganda and Kenya – 172.

Also not left out are Senegal – 17, Pakistan – 56, Egypt – 102, China – 268, Malaysia and Thailand – 247, Lebanon – 147, Canada – 51, South Africa – 324 and Ghana – 205.

[VIDEO]: Girl Advertised For Sale On Facebook, 28 Others Depart Lebanon For Nigeria

 

Some 29 persons have departed Lebanon for Nigeria, Chairman of the Nigerians In Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa said on Saturday.

Among the passengers is Peace Ufuoma, the girl who was put on sale on Facebook by a Lebanese and rescued by the Nigerian mission.

A Lebanese man, Wael Jerro, had placed a $1,000 price on the Nigerian lady before he was reported to the Lebanese government.

READ ALSO: FG Reports Lebanese Man Who Put Nigerian Lady For Sale

Dabiri-Erewa said the flight back home had received support from the Chairman of the Diaspora Committee at the House of Representatives, Tolu Akande-Sadipe, the Director-General of  National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, Julie Okah-Donli, the Nigerian mission in Lebanon and the Lebanese ambassador to Nigeria.

 

NIDCOM has been heavily involved in bringing Nigerians abroad back home since the coronavirus pandemic shut down most commercial airspaces across the world.

In May, the federal government had facilitated the evacuation of 69 Nigerian citizens stranded in Lebanon.

 

 

86 Nigerians Arrive Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport From Sudan

File: Evacuees wait on a queue at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja following their arrival from the U.S. on May 10, 2020. Photos: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

Eighty six Nigerians on Friday arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, from Sudan.

The Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, disclosed this in a tweet where she said they arrived the country via Air Sudan.

According to the NIDCOM boss, the returnees will go on a 14-day isolation, in line with the guidelines set by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) as well as the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.

Also, NIDCOM tweeted on its handle that the returnees had tested negative to COVID-19.

 


On Wednesday, 172 Nigerians citizens arrived Abuja from Uganda and Kenya at around 10:20 am via Air Peace flight from Nairobi.

While some of the evacuees disembarked in the nation’s capital, others proceeded to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.

All the evacuees who tested negative for COVID-19 are to undergo a 14-day self-isolation as mandated by the NCDC, the federal ministry of health and PTF on COVID-19.

The latest evacuation was put together by Nigeria’s missions in Nairobi, Kenya, and Kampala, Uganda.

VIDEO: Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, has explained how the ministry is working to ensure the safety of passengers as airports set to reopen for domestic flights.

 

We Have Quite A Number Of People In Prison For Drugs In Indonesia – Abike Dabiri

 

The Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has said that many Nigerians are in prison for drug-related crimes in Indonesia.

She disclosed this on Friday in an interview with Channels Television, while addressing the recent attack by Nigerians on the Nigerian embassy in Indonesia.

While stating that she had no prior knowledge of any problems that may have existed with Nigerians in Indonesia, she said she was only aware of the drug-related issues in the country.

“Maybe they’ve had issues with the mission and were talking to the minister, I don’t know, but all I know is, in Indonesia, we have quite a number of people in prison for drugs,” Dabiri-Erewa said.

Read Also: We’ve Lost Close To 40 Nigerians To COVID-19 In Diaspora – Abike Dabiri

“In Indonesia, the penalty for drugs is death. So that’s the case we are dealing with…appealing to them not to kill them but they said that is their law but (asides that) there hasn’t been any particular contact with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission about problems in Indonesia”.

Speaking about other issues in relation to the COVID-19, the NIDCOM boss noted that the government is in touch with Nigerians in diaspora in various parts of the world even as efforts are on the evacuate them.

According to her, 18 more Nigerians are expected to return from France over the weekend.

Unfortunately, she also noted that 40 Nigerians living in the diaspora have died as a result of complications from the virus.

Meanwhile, Dabiri-Erewa also noted that “Nigerians in the diaspora are coming together to raise funds to help frontline workers in Nigeria and very soon, this initiative by the Nigerians in the diaspora will be presented to the PTF”.

FG Reports Lebanese Man Who Put Nigerian Lady For Sale

Abike Dabiri-Erewa
File:  The Chairman of NIDCOM, Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

 

Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) has reported a Lebanese man, Wael Jerro, who allegedly put up a Nigerian for sale.

 The Chairman of NIDCOM, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said this in a tweet on her official handle on Wednesday.

Jerro had placed a $1,000 price on the Nigerian lady who was identified as Busari Peace Ufuoma in a closed Facebook group,  Facebook ‘Buy and Sell in Lebanon,’ according to an Instagram post by @thereneebisaad.

While reacting to the development, Abike said a manhunt has started for Jerro and he has been reported to the Nigerian Mission in Lebanon; urging Nigerians to put the lady in prayers.

“Update on this . The Nigerian mission in Lebanon has since reported to the host authorities,” she said.

“A man hunt is on for the man and all out search for the young girl..Let’s keep her in our prayers.”

Giving details about the Nigerian, the Instagram user had claimed that Busari is a 32-year-old lady, and called on her compatriots to report the case to the relevant authorities.

“Dear People, come and see what this human is doing. Selling this Nigerian housekeeping lady for $1000,” the Instagram user wrote on the post which contained Busari’s passport.

“This is NOT OKAY‼️TRANSLATION: Domestic worker from Nigeria for sale with new legal documents. She’s 30 years old, she’s very active and very clean. Price: 1000$‼️I have reported to the Nigerian embassy. Please do the same if you know anyone in the Nigerian embassy in Lebanon.”

Diaspora Commission Reveals 13 Nigerians Who Died Of COVID-19 In UK, US

 

 

The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) has revealed the identities of 13 Nigerians who died of coronavirus (COVID-19).

In a video, the NIDCOM disclosed that the Nigerians were among those who lost their lives to the COVID-19 battle in the United Kingdom and the United States.

The 55-second clip was shared by the commission on Thursday via its Twitter handle.

A breakdown of the figure shows that eight persons died in the UK while five others died in the US.

They comprise eight males and five females, including a medical doctor, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and a clergyman among others.

The Chairman of NIDCOM, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, also shared the video on a verified Twitter handle.

Watch the video below: