Not less than 82 Nigerians and Ghanaians landed yesterday at the cargo section of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos as they were deported back to the country from the United Kingdom.
Among 41 Nigerian deportees was a woman in her 60s who raised her arms in jubilation after alighting from the aircraft saying, “This is my country. I will make it here in Nigeria. I thank God for bringing me home safely.”
Those deported, including another set of 41 Ghanaians, who were first taken to Accra, got involved in immigration issues viewed as serious offence in the UK.
The Nigerian deportees, 33 males and eight females, arrived Lagos at 7:50a.m. in an unmarked chartered Airbus 330 aircraft, which also conveyed over 30 British security operatives that escorted the deportees into the country.
It was learnt that the deportees, who were obviously downcast, had been in custody of the British Government since October 2015 over issues related to illegal entry, family problems and expired stay, among others.
Some of the Nigerians landed in high spirit and were seen going to pick their baggage after they were profiled by the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and other security personnel at the Lagos airport.
A few others had small packages to carry after profiling by the receiving immigration officers and NEMA.
Speaking on the deportation, the Director General of NEMA, represented by the Deputy Director (Search and Rescue), Dr. Bandele Onimole, said the Federal Government had been in touch with its British counterparts towards reuniting the deportees with their families in Nigeria.
Onimole, however, emphasised that the returnees were not prisoners, but deported for violating immigration laws.
“The reason, according to British High Commission, is that they are being brought back for immigration offences, and as a responsible government, we cannot allow our citizens to enter into the country and start finding their way.
“So, it is our responsibility as NEMA, on behalf of the Federal Government, to ensure that they are well received and we need to talk to them and make them realise that the country they left some years ago is not the same they are meeting it; we have moved ahead.
“Here and today, everyone has equal opportunity to be the best you can be. In whatever trade or learning, ensure you carve a niche for yourself in Nigeria. Where we tend to go to for greener pastures, after all, was developed by their own persons. So we should be able to stay back here and ensure we develop our own country,” Onimole said.
While the immigration officials had them profiled, NEMA offered them stipends for feeding and transportation to their various communities within the country.
“There are no prisoners on board this aircraft, you may have heard that, but the Nigerian government, through our High Commission in United Kingdom, is working on the possibility of assisting those ones to get off the hook and come back home,” the NEMA official said.
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