The first batch of Nigerians in South Africa have returned to Nigeria after the xenophobic attacks on businesses of foreign nationals in the South African country.
About 187 adults and children were successfully evacuated on Wednesday as against the 320 Nigerians expected back home.
The flight arrived at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, at 9.43pm.
NAN reports that the returnees were aided by the Federal Government with the assistance of a Nigerian carrier, Air Peace.
The B777 aircraft, with registration number 5N-BWI, which departed Thambo International Airport, Johannesburg, landed at the Cargo Wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, at 9.37 p.m.
The returnees included adults, children and infants, who expressed joy on returning home safely and sang the Nigerian National Anthem.
They were received by the Chairman of Nigeria Diaspora Commission, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Air Peace Chairman, Mr Allen Onyema, and the representatives of government which included the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Nigeria Immigration Service and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria.
Dabiri-Erewa told newsmen that over 600 Nigerians had indicated interest to return from South Africa, adding that the government was ready to assist them to settle back in the country through its various social intervention programmes.
She said the Bank of Industry had also been mobilised to assist those willing to acquire vocational skills.
According to her, stipends will be given to these Nigerians to enable them get back to their respective states, while telecommunication company, MTN, will also give them pre-loaded Sim cards of N6, 000 to assist them.
She told the returnees that besides stipends to help them get to their destinations; for ease of communication, they will receive SIM cards with N40,000 worth of airtime, plus 9GB of data valid for two months, as well as soft loan from the Bank of Industry to support those interested in small trade and businesses.
Air Peace boss told newsmen that the airline spent over N300 million to airlift the affected Nigerians in the bid to support the Federal Government.
Two of the returnees, Mr John Onuoha from Abia and Jude Anthony from Edo reportedly told newsmen that they were unjustly attacked by South Africans, who destroyed their businesses and properties in fresh xenophobic attacks which began on Aug. 29.
They praised Air Peace for the kind gesture, stressing that there was no place like home.
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