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The Federal Government will today commence the evacuation of about 5,500 Nigerians, including students stranded in Khartoum and other cities in Sudan.

To facilitate the repatriation, the government has released N150m  for hiring 40 buses to convey its desperate citizens from Sudan to Cairo in Egypt.

The money was paid to an undisclosed transport company on Tuesday at 12:37 pm by the Central Bank of Nigeria through the National Emergency Management Agency.

The Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, confirmed on Tuesday that the payment had been made, noting that the evacuees would take off on Wednesday morning.

The evacuation is taking place against the backdrop of the three-day ceasefire starting midnight Tuesday declared by the Sudanese armed forces and the Rapid Support Force.

Foreign countries are taking advantage of the temporary suspension of hostilities to move their nationals from Sudan as deadly fighting between the two forces entered the second week.

The clashes broke out between erstwhile allies, General Abdel al-Burha,  who heads the Sudanese Armed Forces and leader of the RSF paramilitary group,  General Mohamed Dagalo, over a power-sharing disagreement.

The conflict had so far claimed about 500 lives with thousands of others injured and millions displaced.

Foreigners are also fleeing the capital Khartoum in a long-United Nations convoy, while millions of frightened residents hunkered down inside their homes, many running low on water and food.

Across the city of five million, army and paramilitary troops have fought ferocious street battles since April 15, leaving behind charred tanks, gutted buildings and looted shops.

Several ceasefires that were agreed by both sides were ignored, including a three-day pause to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr, which started on Friday.

The Federal Government had planned the repatriation of Nigerian nationals in that country on Tuesday but had to shift the evacuation to Wednesday (today) for security reasons.

The PUNCH had reported that the government sought the support of the Egyptian authorities to evacuate the 5,500 stranded Nigerians out of Sudan through Luxor, Egypt.

The Director of the Special Duties, National Emergency Management Agency, who doubles as Chairman of NEMA’s Committee for the Evacuation of the Stranded Nigerians from Sudan, Dr Onimode Bandele, had said the government met with government officials in Egypt on how to move Nigerians through Luxor.

Following the delay in evacuating students from Sudan, the National Association of Nigerian Students arranged the transportation of some students through Ethiopia.

The students were, however, denied access to Ethiopia by the country’s authorities because they lacked security clearance.

Bandele, who advised Nigerians against self-evacuation, said such an arrangement was risky.

“Whatever you meet is your headache, because you did not listen to the authorities that are supposed to cater for you,” he had warned Nigerians.

 There were indications on Tuesday that the Federal Government had intensified efforts to evacuate the students and other stranded Nigerians.

 In a letter dated April 23, 2023, signed by the Charge D’ Affairs, Nigerian Embassy in Sudan, Haruna Garko, the mission requested 200 buses to convey 3,500 students from Khartoum to Cairo.

According to the payment receipt sighted by The PUNCH, the Federal Government through NEMA transferred N150m to one Abubakar Ali through Jaiz Bank for the transportation of the beleaguered citizens.

Embassy writes parents

In a message sent to parents, the embassy explained the challenges it was facing in its efforts to bring back their wards and children.

The message sent on Monday evening read in part, “Good evening dear parents, I wish to respectfully update you on our efforts since morning. Fortunately, we are alive to tell the story. Three of us (Embassy officials were harassed and almost killed by RSF forces on our way to get the buses).

“We have secured 40 luxury buses despite the limited supply and high demand due to the situation of war we find ourselves in. But the company insisted on cash payment, which is practically impossible. After negotiation, they agreed to collect some percentage of the money but not less than $400,000 cash. We do not have that money.

“We managed to get some money agents, but they insisted only when their bank account is credited outside Khartoum, can they release the funds. We have informed the Federal Government of Nigeria accordingly to credit their account hopefully early in the morning (Tuesday) for the evacuation to start.

 “In view of the above circumstances, there will be some delay for the take-off but Insha Allah it will be done. Kindly bear with us and inform your children/relatives to stay where they are pending payment by the FGN. We are sorry for this inconvenience. Thank you all.”

In another message sent to the students, the embassy attributed the delay to logistics issues.

It said, “Hello all. Please due to some logistics issues, there will be a delay for the take-off as earlier announced.  Once arrangements are concluded, we will announce.

“Therefore, people should endeavour to stay where they are in the interim. But we assure you we are going by the grace of God.  Thank you for your understanding.”

 A copy of the receipt obtained by our correspondent showed that the N150m was paid on Tuesday at 12:37 pm for the purpose of the Sudan evacuation. The funding bank was the Central Bank of Nigeria through NEMA.

Evacuation begins Wednesday

Giving an update on the evacuation process via her official Twitter handle on Tuesday evening, the NiDCOM Chairman, Dabiri-Erewa, said,  “They are still in Khartoum.@nemanigeria has sorted all payments etc but there are still a few logistical delays. They will likely proceed early in the morning. Safer to leave early morning. A war situation is not a normal situation. We are all anxiously waiting to receive them.

“Some logistics issues but all sorted out now by @nemanigeria but advisable to take off the early morning than late afternoon.”

Speaking with our correspondent, the President of the Nasarawa State Students Association in Sudan, Al-Ameen Ahmad, was disappointed over the logistics issues that delayed their evacuation.

He stated, “Yes, the trip has been postponed to tomorrow (today). We were told to move back to our hostels. It is disappointing that we are already exhausted and only to be told such.”

Another student of the Sudan International University, Zainab Mohammed, said: “All I want is to be home, that is all.”

A student who did not give his name said, “We are still in Khartoum. The Embassy has moved the time to 12 pm. I am afraid that the Embassy might change its mind.

The President of the Jigawa State Students Association in Sudan, Umar Abubakar, said, “We are yet to move.”

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation’s representative in Sudan, Dr Nima Abid, on Tuesday, said the ongoing violent conflict between the Sudanese military and the RSF had claimed at least 459 lives and injured 4,072 others as of April 24.

Joining a UN press briefing in Geneva by video, Abid said, however, that the figures were probably “very much underestimated.”

The WHO also confirmed 14 attacks on healthcare facilities since the start of the fighting.

According to AFP, fighters have occupied a national public laboratory in Sudan holding samples of diseases including polio and measles, creating an “extremely, extremely dangerous” situation.

Fighters “kicked out all the technicians from the lab… which is completely under the control of one of the fighting parties as a military base,” Abid said.

He did not say which of the fighting parties had taken over the laboratory.

Abid said he had received a call from the head of the national laboratory in Khartoum on Monday, a day before a United States-brokered 72-hour ceasefire between Sudan’s warring generals officially came into effect after 10 days of urban combat.

Obi lauds Onyema

Meanwhile, the Presidential Candidate of Labour Party, Peter Obi, has appreciated the Chairman of Air Peace Airline, Chief Allen Onyema, for accepting to airlift the majority of over 5,500 Nigerians stranded in  Sudan.

Obi saluted the courage of the airline boss in a tweet via his official Twitter handle on Tuesday night.

The PUNCH reported that the private airline expressed willingness to evacuate the country’s citizens from the North-East African nation for free if the Federal Government can get them to a safe and secure airport in any of the neighbouring countries bordering Sudan.

According to him, he was compelled to respond to the distress call because Nigeria could not afford to lose her citizens in that country, adding that it would be his own commitment to making sure that the stranded Nigerians in the war-torn country are safe.

Reacting to the gesture, an excited Obi praised Onyeama in his tweet.

He said “My warmest felicitation and appreciation to the Chairman of AirPeace, Allen Oyema, for his gracious act of altruism in helping with plans to airlift distressed and stranded Nigerians from war-torn Sudan.

“Thank you for your patriotism and for helping our nation in its time of difficulty. Your consistent efforts in promoting national interest and cohesion are exemplary. Such selflessness speaks to the need for our greater unity and being our brother’s keeper irrespective of tribe and religion and despite our diversity.”

The former Anambra State governor further expressed strong conviction that the various noble gestures of Onyema will serve as instructive lessons to the Nigerian people in the act of nation-building.

“Those who can make meaningful contributions must be ready to do so selflessly. God bless you and God bless Nigeria” Obi said.


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Buhari Prefers Animals To Nigerians, Says ‘My Cows, Sheep Much Easier To Control’ Than Compatriots




Outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari has slammed Nigerians, stating he prefers to be with animals on his farm because they are “much easier to control” than his compatriots.

“I am looking forward to tomorrow (Monday) to fly to my base and go back to my cows and sheep, which are much easier to control than fellow Nigerians,” said Mr Buhari.

Mr Buhari spoke at a gala and dinner held on Sunday in Abuja.

He also claimed that the 2023 elections gave power back to the Nigerian electorate.

While praising the outcome of the elections, Mr Buhari congratulated Nigerians for realising they have power in their votes and that their votes count.

Presidents of South Africa, Sierra Leone and Ghana attended the event. 

He added, “Your Excellencies, heads of state and government, and their representatives, I thank you very much, and I say goodbye to you and wish us the best of luck.”

Mr Buhari, in March, told U.S. ambassador Mary Beth Leonard that he was eager to return to his animals in Daura.

Mr Buhari also told the American diplomat that he could not wait to stop being Nigerian president and get back to his farm where his animals awaited him.

“I plan to be a big landlord back at home, working on my farms and tending to more than 300 animals. I am eager to go,” Mr Buhari told Ms Leonard.

In January 2022, the former military dictator complained about ruling Nigeria.

Peoples Gazette

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Nigerian Air: Airlines Berate Sirika, Groups Demand EFCC Probe




Domestic Airlines under the aegis of the Air Operators of Nigeria have berated the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, for allegedly putting pressure on the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority to issue an Air Operators Certificate to Nigeria Air without following due process.

The carriers also accused the former minister of unilaterally plotting to establish Nigeria Air without involving the panel meant to work on the project.

The local carriers made this known in a statement issued by its spokesperson, Prof Obiora Okonkwo, on Sunday.

The statement said, “As indigenous operators, we are happy and grateful to the NCAA for saving us from this punishment by resisting the pressure from Minister Hadi Sirika to grant an AOC to Nigeria Air without going through the due process.”

The association further said the project had been allegedly shrouded in secrecy since the Ministerial Committee on the Establishment of a National Carrier recommended that the national carrier be private sector-driven with minimal government involvement.

It added, “On further investigation, we discovered some mind burgling dangerous agenda to kill the entire indigenous operators and handover monopoly to Ethiopian Airlines in a dubious and fraudulent way against the economic interest of Nigeria, hence our court action supported by strong material evidence. For us, it is a patriotic action to save the Nigerian Government, people and economy from exploitation and to also protect the Nigerian aviation sector and our investments.”

Meanwhile, a Nigeria-based anti-corruption group, SecureWorld and Liberty Initiative for Peace has asked the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to arrest and probe Sirika for allegedly using the establishment of the national carrier economic malfeasance.

The petition, which was addressed to the EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, was signed by the Executive Director of SELIP, Mark Adebayo.

The letter read in part, “We are compelled to bring to your attention that the aircraft purportedly unveiled on Friday, May 26, 2023, by Minister Hadi Sirika, as the first flight of the national carrier, Nigeria Air, is still in active service of Ethiopia Airlines.

“We can confirm that the aircraft, a Boeing 737-800  with the registration number  ET-APL,  has since left the country this weekend for Turkey according to a check on the flight radar; it only transited Nigeria for the farce of a show put up by the minister.

“The flight landing in the country with Ethiopia Airlines’ registration number means Nigeria Air has no  Air Operator Certificate. No aircraft can be registered in Nigeria without the carrier having an AOC which means that the aircraft does not belong to Nigeria Air either as leased or owned equipment. So, Sirika should not be allowed to fool Nigerians,” the group said in the petition.”

The group urged the anti-graft agency to make Sirika account for the sum of N15.9bn that has been committed so far to the project by the Federal Government, alleging that the desperation by the minister was geared towards covering up the misappropriation of funds and monumental fraud.

Meanwhile, finding showed that the aircraft that was purportedly unveiled on Friday in Abuja flew back to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Saturday evening.

As of Saturday evening, the flight tracker showed the aircraft was en-route Addis Ababa, approaching from the Central African Republic.

However, on Sunday morning, the flight tracker showed the plane had landed in Ethiopia.

Efforts to reach the Managing Director of Nigeria Air, Capt Dapo Olumide, and the Head Press, Public Relations Ministry of Aviation, Oluseyi Odutayo, proved abortive.

Responses to messages sent to their telephone lines were still being expected as of press time on Sunday.


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Tinubu’s Inauguration: You Can’t Stop Aggrieved Voters From Protesting — Udenta Tells DSS



PROFESSOR Udenta Udenta has flayed unfavorable disposition of security agencies to protests by aggrieved Nigerians during presidential inauguration on May 29 , warning that any negative response to protest during inauguration by security agencies would an infringement on the fundamental human rights of citizens.

Undenta,a pioneer National Secretary of the defunct Alliance for Democracy,AD, particularly picked holes on some comments attributed to heads of security agencies ahead of the inauguration.

The renowned scholar spoke on Thursday, on the sideline of a public presentation of a book,
titled:“ Media and Nigeria’s Constitutional Democracy: Threats, Constraints and Resilience”, organized by the Abuja School of Social and Political Thought, in Abuja.

The book co-authored by Paul Obi, Taye Obateru and Sami Amadi was reviewed by a communication consultant and Deputy Dean of the School of Postgraduate Studies, Baze University, Abuja, Prof. Abiodun Adeniyi and launched by Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed.

According to Udenta,the remarks being made by security chiefs over the inauguration ceremony were attempt to shut down democratic conversation.

Recall that the federal government had said security will be reinforced at Eagle Square, the designated venue for the May 29 presidential inauguration, as well as in its surrounding areas.

Udenta said: “In two or three days times, there will be inauguration. The Inspector General of Police is already speaking, the Director General, Department of State Service (DSS) is speaking, the military are also speaking. However, my sense of it is that they are shutting down democratic conversation and we should not allow that. While you’re going to swear people in, you should equally allow those that want to protest do that peacefully, legitimately constitutionally.

“If you have your security perimeter, within which you don’t expect anybody except invited guests and those with clearance, outside the perimeter, thousands, if possible millions of Nigerians are permitted to gather with their placards and protest. That is part of democracy. The media is a fundamental cadre for protecting democratic infrastructure and governance. The moment you tear it down, democracy vanishes, and authoritarianism becomes the order of the day.

“The behavior of National Broadcasting Commission, and even behaviour of the president-elect media team is abhorrent at this stage, that’s why I want to repeat, as people will be sworn in on May 29, millions of Nigerians have rights to protests wherever they are as long as they don’t have arms and are doing it peacefully, as the law provides.”

The don, therefore, suggested that “the media should cover any protest robustly with intensity, like the way they will cover the swearing-in. So whoever want to protest or have counter-protest can do that within their rights.

“I feel hurt when I hear people who handles the security talk with so much anger as if people are going to topple the democratic system which is not going to happen. The right to protest is provided for in law,”he added.

Speaking, IGP Usman Baba Alkali, who cautioned journalists against circulating fake news and hate speeches, declared the police readiness for the inauguration ceremony.

The IGP, represented by the Force Public relations officer, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, also emphasized the need for journalists to fact check their stories before publishing, while adhering to journalism ethics in their reportage.

“We should be mindful of the excessiveness of our reportage and engage in constructive criticism”, he stated.

Also speaking at the event,the Bauchi State Governor,Bala Mohammed,lauded the role played by the Nigerian Media in building democratic culture, institutions and practices in the discharge of its constitutional responsibility.

Speaking through his Special Adviser, on Media and Publicity, Mukhtar Gidado, Mohammed thanked the organizers, authors and editors of the book for a well researched scholarly endeavor which he said has a direct and practical bearing on media development and democracy .

He, however, lamented that the current debate in Nigeria regarding the place of the media in Nigeria’s democratic transformation and consolidation relate to the role of the media in empowering civic spaces and strengthening democratic governance and the challenges the media face in engaging in such undertakings .

Co-author of the book, Paul Obi, stressed the need for the press to be allowed to operate with the constitutional provisions.

He said:”What we need to do is to ensure that those right are not breach or limited and it should work within our constitutional framework and any aspect that prevent media from performing constitutional rights,we should raised alarm,”

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