The Nigerian Federal Government announced it could evacuate all Nigerian citizens in Sudan if four aircraft were made available for immediate departure.
The first group of stranded Nigerians, escaping ongoing conflict in Sudan, arrived in Abuja on Wednesday.
Nigerian authorities report that over 3,500 nationals are part of the evacuation plan, though the total number could be higher with over 5,000 Nigerians believed to reside in Sudan.
Air Peace, a Nigerian commercial carrier, landed in Abuja with 260 passengers, and a Nigerian Air Force plane arrived shortly after with around 90 passengers.
Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), on Thursday, said that if four aircraft could depart simultaneously, every Nigerian stranded in Sudan could be brought home.
She mentioned that an additional 3,000 Nigerians are expected to return.
Dabiri-Erewa explained that Egyptian officials require Nigerian aircraft to accommodate the full number of evacuees; otherwise, they will not allow the evacuation to proceed.
She expressed hope for a quick resolution and prioritised the evacuation of students, women, and children.
Dabiri-Erewa said, “If four planes go at the same time, they will bring everybody back. Most importantly, we hope those over there come back speedily.
We are expecting that with the arrangements made by NEMA, it is going to be more planes because Egypt makes it difficult.
“Egypt says if the number of people you brought is let’s say 200 and the aircraft can only take 150, then nobody will leave.
“They want you to pick the number of people that you are bringing into their borders.
“At Port Sudan, we are trying to get tickets because it is even more difficult to get a flight to Port Sudan but they have an airline.
“So they are processing them now to get them tickets and then they come back home. And if other airlines get the landing permit, they will quickly go to help evacuate them.
At least, they are coming back home and we are glad no life was lost and priority was given to students, women and children. So, let’s just set our eyes on that.”