Nigeria’s Consul- General in Johannesburg, Mr Godwin Adama has confirmed that South African authorities have granted landing permit to Air Peace Flight B777 to enable it to evacuate some 320 Nigerians escaping from xenophobia in that country.
Adama who made the confirmation in a telephone interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday was reacting to a complaint by the Managing Director of Air Peace, Chief Allen Onyema, who had said that the refusal of South Africa to grant the permit made it impossible for the flight to leave Lagos at 1 a.m. for Johannesburg to convey the second batch of returnees.
The Nigerian consular officer has, therefore, explained that the permit had been granted the airline and that the flight would be late in the night of Tuesday.
“They want Nigerians to arrive during the week, they are taking-off from here midnight. I do not know the exact time but they will be leaving (South Africa) midnight.
“I do not know why they were denied the landing permit. I think it is an airline operational issue. They did not get it yesterday but they told me that it came late yesterday (Monday).
“It was weekend and they were going to get it this morning; the airline did not tell me it was deliberate, but they explained to me that they have gotten it,” Adama said.
He further revealed that the manifest arrived last night towards the close of work and they were to take-off 1 a.m. Nigerian time yesterday (Monday) but they did not because it was late.
“I have gotten it now so they will be able to make me know the time of their arrival here so that we can know when to take-off.”
Adama also said that the buses provided to convey Nigerians wanting to return home were still at the mission premises and everyone was there.
“We are still really working on the number (320) to see how we can fill up the airline capacity with anyone that is readily available. We have more than enough, we are even trying to ensure that the aircraft is filled up that is why we are readily taking people who are on ground now.”
He added that the delay has also helped because as names are being called to board, some people were cleared at the last minute.
“The truth is they are people who have not been cleared, those who are ready to go are all here and we are trying to queue them up. We may not even be able to take all of them who are hopeful,” he added.
According to him, the next batch of evacuation would be based on the Federal Government’s directives.