Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, yesterday, 27 May addressed diplomatic issues that have posed challenges for the Nigerian government, including return of trafficked girls in Lebanon, rejection of transfer request for Nigerian evacuees by UK Government, and denial of landing permit to Airpeace by the Canadian Government.
UK rejects request to use chartered flights to bring home stranded citizens in UK
Top on the list was the rejection of a request by the UK government to use its incoming chartered flight from London to airlift Nigerian citizens waiting for evacuation in that country.
The Minister said his officials approached the British High Commission to request that the planes coming from London be allowed to bring in Nigerian trapped in the UK who are willing to pay a one-way ticket to return to Nigeria.
“The UK Government, which is effectively chartering these planes, in the contracts that they have with those companies, there are provisions not to carry anybody that is coming into Nigeria on that first leg.
“So, the contract is to carry passengers going only from Abuja, from Nigeria, to the United Kingdom.
Nigeria last week impounded a British plane and slapped it with a N1million fine for bringing in passengers into Nigeria when it was cleared as a humanitarian supplies flight.
Regarding the UK rejection to board Nigeria passengers on her empty chartered flight from London, It is yet to be established whether UK Government took a precautionary measure or in retaliation for this action since they know that Nigeria would likely show up to request for another privilege as they did the first time that Britons were evacuated
However, Onyeama said that he was not bothered because the Government had taken a decision to, “as far as is practicable, use Nigerian carriers to fetch the evacuees unless it is absolutely impossible to do so.”
Airpeace in Canada
He also spoke on the rejection of landing permit for Airpeace to pick up Nigerians trapped in Canada, saying that it is probably a result of not been familiar with the pedigree of the airline.
He said that the Ministry as well as the Mission in Canada have approached the Mission in Nigeria and Canadian authorities in Ottawa to give them a profile of the airline.
Lebanese Female Trafficking
Among 69 Nigerians evacuated to Nigeria are 50 Nigerian girls trafficked for sex and slave labour in Lebanon.
Mr. Onyeama disclosed that the Lebanese community in Nigeria graciously funded the cost of the hotel and the quarantine for all 69 returnees.
This gesture, he said, probably shows “their disapproval of what is happening back in their country.” he said.