About 386 Nigerians have been returned to the country from the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon as part of the government’s efforts to assist stranded nationals abroad in the wake of COVID-19 travel restrictions.
The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), in a tweet via its official handle on Wednesday, said 292 Nigerians were evacuated from the UAE, taking the number of evacuees from the Arab country to 2,933 since it began evacuation in June.
According to NIDCOM, the evacuees arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, at 02:30 p.m. on board an Emirates flight.
Also, 94 Nigerian girls, many of who are believed to have been trafficked to Lebanon and had appeared in a viral video asking for government’s help, were among those evacuated on Wednesday.
They arrived at Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos from Lebanon.
94 out of 150 Stranded Nigeria Girls arrive Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos from Lebanon today Wednesday, 12th of August, 2020,” NIDCOM tweeted.
The agency said while the evacuees had tested negative to COVID-19 before boarding the plane, they would be undergoing a mandatory 14-day self-isolation, in line with the guidelines issued by the federal government.
Receiving the stranded girls at the airport, the Chairman, NIDCOM, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, commended the efforts of actors that contributed to the successful repatriation of the girls.
“On hand to welcome home 94 Nigerians stranded in Lebanon for months . A big thank you to the Lebaneese Amb to Nigeria, the Nigerian Mission in Lebanon, the Lebaneese Community in Nigeria for making this possible Nema is handling their logistics . More returning soon,” Mrs Dabiri-Erewa said in a Twitter post.
As the COVID-19 pandemic held the world in a tailspin, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, asked Nigerians interested in returning to the country to buy into the evacuation idea and work with Nigeria’s embassies and high commissions across the world.
Nigerian airports have been closed to international flights since March, but essential flights are still allowed.
“What is important to get out to all Nigerians is that their engagement and communication should be with the embassies, high commissions and not with any other parallel agency, department of government or anything like that,” Mr Onyeama said in a briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 in April.
Nigeria has since repatriated thousands of stranded nationals from countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Egypt, Sudan, France, Ethiopia, and many others.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian government said it had spent N169 million on the evacuation of Nigerians from abroad.
Finally, Buhari Fires Service Chiefs, Names Replacements
After years of complaints by Nigerians about the worsening security situation amidst the overstay of Nigeria’s military chiefs in office, President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday relieved the officials of their positions.
Presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, said in a statement, Tuesday, that Mr Buhari “accepted the immediate resignation of the Service Chiefs, and their retirement from service.”
The four men – Gabriel Olonisakin, a general and Chief of Defence Staff; Tukur Buratai; a lieutenant general and chief of army staff; Abubakar Sadique, an air marshal and chief of air staff, and Ibok Ibas, a vice admiral and chief of naval staff – were supposed to have retired over two years ago based on their years of service.
But President Buhari kept them in office even as the security situation across the country worsened with bandits wreaking havoc in the North-west and North-central states, the Boko Haram carrying out attacks in the North-east and kidnapping becoming the norm in several states across Nigeria.
As the security situation got worse and more Nigerians called for the replacement of the service chiefs, Mr Buhari stuck to his guns, insisting they were doing their best and did not deserve to be replaced.
Even when he finally relieved them of their positions on Tuesday, the president praised the officials for their “overwhelming achievements in our efforts at bringing enduring peace to our dear country.”
President Buhari’s claim of “overwhelming achievements’ by the outgone military chiefs not only contradicts the perception of many Nigerians but also contradicts the position of the National Assembly dominated by members of the president’s party, APC.
At least on three different occasions, the National Assembly called for the sack of the service chiefs based on the worsening security situation. On each occasion, the president ignored the lawmakers and retained the Olonisakin-led service chiefs who were appointed on July 13, 2015, after President Buhari assumed office.
In his statement, Mr Adesina announced that the president appointed Leo Irabor, a major general, as the Chief of Defence Staff.
Mr Irabor formerly led Nigeria’s war against Boko Haram as the Theatre Commander of the Operation Lafiya Dole.
Ibrahim Attahiru, also a major general, was named the new Chief of Army Staff. Like Mr Irabor, Mr Attahiru had also led the war against Boko Haram.
The president also appointed A.Z. Gambo, a rear admiral, as Chief of Naval Staff and Isiaka Amao, an air vice marshal, as Chief of Air Staff.
“The President congratulates the new Service Chiefs, and urges them to be loyal and dedicated in the discharge of their responsibilities,” Mr Adesina said.
Just In: Chelsea Fire Manager Frank Lampard
Chelsea announced on Monday they had sacked manager Frank Lampard after a poor run in the Premier League.
“This was a very difficult decision for the club, not least because I have an excellent personal relationship with Frank and I have the utmost respect for him,” said owner Roman Abramovich.
Chelsea are struggling in ninth place in the Premier League table, 11 points behind leaders Manchester United.
They have lost five of their past eight Premier League matches after a good start to the season.
Former Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel in line to take over, reports said.
Eagles Captain, Ahmed Musa Set to Join West Brom
Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa is set to join Premier League club West Bromwich Albion on a short term deal.
The 28-year-old has been unattached since quitting Al Nassr in October 2020.
According to Daily Mail, the Baggies have requested a visa for the winger and have also scheduled him for a medical on Wednesday.
Capped 95 times by Nigeria, Musa’s career has stalled since he left CSKA Moscow in 2016. Having scored 55 goals in 167 appearances for the Russians, he joined Leicester City in the summer of that year.
Things did not work out at the King Power Stadium, as the African made just seven league starts in 21 outings.
He joined after the Foxes had claimed the Premier League title and hoped to be part of something special with the club.
But he was loaned back to CSKA for the second half of the 2017/18 campaign.
He was then sold to Al Nassr in January 2019 and played 62 times in all competitions before being released.