Cameras set, tape recorders cued, security screening passed; the long wait for Nigerians trapped in xenophobic attacks in South Africa is running unend at the cargo wing of the Lagos Airport following delay in the arrival of Air Peace aircraft.
Time check: 4.05 pm. It is the fourth hour on the roll as security officials; reporters; cameramen and other security agencies await the arrival of 317 Nigerians already profiled to return to their country of birth.
The delay; without sufficient words from concerned authorities has triggered anxiety among Nigerian on the rationale by South African authorities to erect roadblock on the evacuation of Nigerians from the Rainbow Nation.
Investigations reveal that South African authorities are frustrating the evacuation of Nigerians who have completed processes for the first batch of airlift from that country.
The Air Peace aircraft which left Nigeria 11:30 pm Tuesday arrived OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg about 4:00 am.
Sources at the Nigerian High Commission in Johannesburg said the Commission had prepared the first 320 Nigerians for the first evacuation, but, the South African Immigration officials started formetting trouble by arresting Nigerians billed to be evacuated by demanding relevant travel documents; even as they accused them of travelling without valid papers.
The Nigerian High Commission had prepared travel documents for the Nigerian but Immigration wanted to know how the Nigerians came into the country and began to arrest them, the official disclosed.
“South Africa is frustrating Nigeria. The Air Peace aircraft has been there since 4:00 am. Their Immigration started giving our High Commission problems. They said some Nigerians didn’t have papers. Immigration is arresting them, asking them to explain how they came to South Africa.
“About five minutes ago only 182 Nigerians were allowed to board the flight; the rest are being barred by South Africa Immigration. They are frustrating the Nigerian High Commission, taking the passengers away. They want to frustrate the airline and the Nigerian government. The aircraft has on, burning fuel since 4:00 am. They are not happy that Nigeria is evacuating its citizens. They don’t want the world to know that a Nigerian airline and Nigerian government is evacuating them.
“Our high Commission is having tough time with South African government. They are stopping and arresting Nigerians, saying they should explain how they came into the country,” the official said.