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NEMA rescues 266 Nigerians stranded in Niger Republic

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The Director-General NEMA, Mustapha Ahmed-Habib, made the disclosure while receiving the returnees at the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano.

Mr Ahmed-Habib, represented by NEMA Coordinator Kano Territorial Office, Dr Nuradeen Abdullahi, said the returnees arrived at the international wing of the airport.

“One hundred and thirty returnees arrived late Thursday night at about 10:50 p.m. while 136 arrived on Friday at about 3:50 a.m. with SKY MALI Airlines operated by Ethiopian airlines FML5001 with registration number VR-CQX.”

He noted that the returnees were brought back to Kano under the care of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) from Niamey, capital of Niger Republic through a voluntary repatriation programme.

“The programme was meant for the distressed Nigerians who had left the country to seek greener pastures in various European countries and could not afford to return when their journey became frustrated.

“The returnees included 144 adult males, 56 adult females and 66 children.

“The returnees are from different parts of the country, some from Katsina, Kaduna, Bauchi, Sokoto and Kano States, among others,” he said.

The director-general explained that the returnees would undergo a four-day training on how to achieve self-sustainability and would be provided with seed capital to enable them to engage in productive activities to be self-reliant.

“We want you to serve as ambassadors who would be sensitising other Nigerians against irregular migration,” he said.

He advised the public to avoid endangering their lives by travelling to seek greener pastures in other countries, noting “no country is better than our own country, Nigeria.”

According to Ahmed-Habib, the agency from April to December 13, 2022, received 723 stranded Nigerians repatriated from Agadez, Niger Republic; Khartoum, Sudan, and Chad and were trained in various skills acquisition.

He enjoined them to learn from their experiences and be law abiding citizens.

Recounting their ordeals, Salamatu Muhammad from Kano State said she travelled to Niger with her six-year-old granddaughter to seek greener pastures.

“Initially, I intended to travel to Algeria but on our way the driver dropped us in a town called Asamaka in Niger Republic.

“My husband is old and his shop has been seized so I had no option but to travel to seek greener pastures.

“Before I left Nigeria I was into making fura (millet dough ball). We spent six months in Asamaka, we suffered in the process. My granddaughter got ill as a result and could not eat and had to be administered drip to survive,” she said.

Usman Kabir, another returnee from Zaria, Kaduna State,  said he sold his plot of land to travel to Libya to seek greener pastures.

“I was a phone repairer before I left Zaria.  I saw one of my friends sending money to his parents from Libya that was why I decided to seek greener pastures.

“My parents are poor and I am their first child so I decided to travel to enable me to cater for my parents and siblings, but unfortunately I was stranded in the Sahara desert.

“My dream of becoming rich has ended. I feel shy to go back to my family because I came back with nothing.

“We were many that were stranded in the Sahara and many people died from snake bites.

The returnees were received by NEMA, along with other sister agencies which included the Kano State Emergency Management Agency, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and IDPs and the Nigeria Red Cross  Society. 

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