By Precious Akutamadu
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, on Sunday in Port Harcourt said that the Federal Government would rehabilitate and empower 490 Nigerians evacuated from Libya.
Onyeama gave the assurance on the arrival of the returnees at Port Harcourt Airport in Rivers, where a reception centre has been set up to receive and profile the returnees before being transported to their various states of origin.
The returnees are the first batch of an estimated 5037 Nigerians to be ferried home by two indigenous airlines, Max Air.
Onyeama had led a fact finding team to Libya to negotiate with the government to get the stranded Nigerians home.
The Nigerian mission in Libya, he said, is coordinating the identification of the Nigerian migrants together with a technical team for the evacuation exercises which is made up of representatives of all relevant agencies.
Onyeama also said that President Muhammadu Buhari has made resources available to ensure that returnees were evacuated as quickly as possible and enable them fit back into the society.
“The president had made provisions for every logistics to make sure that we bring you back from Libya,” he said.
He was accompanied by officials from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Director General, National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP).
Also in the team are the Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service and Senior Special Adviser to the President On Diaspora.
He said: “We negotiated with Libyan Government to make sure that you are here; we know that many of you were trafficked and passed through humiliation.
“We are proud of you, you maintained your dignity despite all odds, we hope that one thing that you have learnt is that your life matters to Mr President and all Nigerians.
“You have come home; you will not be abandoned; there is a place and provision for you to be rehabilitated and be educated; we will also train you on skills to be empowered in your country.”
The Comptroller General of Nigeria Immigration Service, Mr Muhammad Babandede, said that Nigerians have the right to travel to any part of the world.
Babandede also stated that there were citizens of Nigeria who had good jobs and papers in Libya.
“There are Nigerians who have genuine papers in Libya. Not all Nigerians were in detention or in the camp.
“So many of them have good jobs, so let Nigerians not think that Nigerians are committing crimes in Libya,” he said.
According to Babandede, the Libyan Government renewed the passports of Nigerians doing good jobs in that country after negotiating with the Nigerian Government.
He also urged Nigerians to travel through legal means to any country of their choice.
Mr Kenneth Kobani, the Secretary to the River State Government, also commended President Buhari for his effort to ensure that the suffering of Nigerians in Libya would come to an end.
Kobani, who represented Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers, said that the State Government would collaborate with the Federal Government to rehabilitate and empower the returnees.