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Foreign Affairs Ministry Denies Frustrating Evacuation Of Nigerian Students From Saudi Arabia

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has denied allegations that it had been frustrating the evacuation process of Nigerian students from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since May 15, 2020.

The students had accused the Nigerian Embassy in Riyadh and the Consulate General of Nigeria in Jedda of refusing to issue permits to them to travel home and failing to secure Over Flight Clearance and Landing Permit for the Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA) to airlift Nigerians from the kingdom.

But in a statement issued by the foreign affairs ministry’s spokesperson, Ferdinand Nwonye, on Thursday, it described the students as “misguided, unpatriotic and ungrateful”.

According to the ministry, while the Saudi Airlines fixed 8th July and 1st August, 2020 respectively for the evacuation of the students, the airline never informed the Nigerian Embassy of the dates or sought for approval of the proposed dates from Nigeria either through the Embassy of Nigeria in Riyadh or the Consulate General of Nigeria in Jedda. The statement stated that such was against the spirit of established diplomatic protocols, hence the inability to operate the said flights.

It added that the “false” allegations by the “misinformed students” should therefore be disregarded.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

“The attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been drawn to a misleading video in circulation, fabricated by some misguided, unpatriotic and ungrateful Nigerian Students in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and attendant media reports alleging that the Government of Nigeria, particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja; the Embassy of Nigeria in Riyadh and the Consulate General of Nigeria in Jedda, have deliberately refused to facilitate their evacuation to Nigeria for holiday since 15th May, 2020,” the statement said.

“The group further alleged that the Embassy of Nigeria in Riyadh and the Consulate General of Nigeria in Jedda refused to issue Permits to Students to travel home and failed to secure Over Flight Clearance and Landing Permit for the Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA) to airlift Nigerians from the Kingdom.

“The Ministry wishes to state that the Nigerian Mission in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in line with Federal Government guidelines for the evacuation of Nigerian Nationals stranded in different parts of the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been engaging relevant host authorities to facilitate the evacuation of Nigerians from the Kingdom. Though the Saudi Airlines fixed 8th July and 1st August, 2020 respectively, the Airline never informed the Embassy of the dates or sought for approval of the proposed dates from Nigeria either through the Embassy of Nigeria in Riyadh or the Consulate General of Nigeria in Jedda, which is against the spirit of established diplomatic protocols, hence the inability to operate the said flights.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also wishes to put it on record that the Embassy Officials did not demand for any commission of graft from the Airlines as insinuated by the misinformed select Nigerian Students, whose allegations have since been condemned and refuted by the leadership of Nigerian Students in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“The Ministry wishes to recall that the Embassy of Nigeria in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia successfully facilitated the evacuation of 117 Nigerians from the Kingdom via Azman Air Services Limited, Flight No: ZQ381 of 19th July, 2020, and is committed in ensuring that the right processes and established guidelines are adhered to in the evacuation of Nigerian Nationals.

“The unfortunate allegations by the misinformed students are therefore absolutely false and should be disregarded.”

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