‘We were stuck in Sahara Desert, many died from snakebites’ — FG evacuates stranded Nigerians

‘We were stuck in Sahara Desert, many died from snakebites’ — FG evacuates stranded Nigerians
December 17
10:24 2022

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has evacuated 266 stranded Nigerians from the Niger Republic.

Mustapha Ahmed-Habib, NEMA’s director-general, received the returnees at the Malam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano, on Friday.

Ahmed-Habib, represented by Nuradeen Abdullahi, NEMA’s Kano coordinator, said the returnees were brought back under the care of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) from Niamey, capital of Niger Republic, through a voluntary repatriation programme.

“One hundred and thirty returnees arrived late Thursday night at about 10:50 p.m. while 136 arrived on Friday at about 3:50 a.m. with SKY MALI Airlines operated by Ethiopian airlines FML5001 with registration number VR-CQX,” he said.


“The returnees included 144 adult males, 56 adult females and 66 children.

“The returnees are from different parts of the country, some from Katsina, Kaduna, Bauchi, Sokoto and Kano States, among others.

“The programme was meant for the distressed Nigerians who had left the country to seek greener pastures in various European countries and could not afford to return when their journey became frustrated.”


He said the returnees would participate in a four-day training on how to achieve self-sustainability and would be provided with seed capital to enable them to start up self-reliant ventures.


Usman Kabir, a Kaduna-born returnee, said he sold his plot of land to travel to Libya to seek greener pastures.

He said many migrants died in the Sahara from snakebites, adding that the shame of not achieving his quest stopped him from coming back home.


“I was a phone repairer before I left Zaria. I saw one of my friends sending money to his parents from Libya that was why I decided to seek greener pastures,” Kabir said.

“My parents are poor and I am their first child so I decided to travel to enable me to cater for my parents and siblings, but unfortunately I was stranded in the Sahara desert.

“My dream of becoming rich has ended. I feel shy to go back to my family because I came back with nothing.

“We were many that were stranded in the Sahara and many people died from snake bites.


Salamatu Muhammad from Kano said she travelled to Niger with her six-year-old granddaughter after her husband suffered financial setbacks.

“Initially, I intended to travel to Algeria but on our way, the driver dropped us in a town called Asamaka in the Niger Republic,” she said.


“My husband is old and his shop has been seized so I had no option than to travel to seek greener pasture.

“Before I left Nigeria I was into making fura (millet dough ball). We spent six months in Asamaka, we suffered in the process. My granddaughter took ill as a result and could not eat and had to be administered drip to survive.”


According to NEMA, 723 stranded Nigerians have been repatriated from Niger, Sudan, and Chad between April and December 13, 2022.

NIDCOM official addresses some India returnees



The federal government, also on Friday, evacuated 196 Nigerians who were stranded in India.

The India returnees arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja via an Ethiopian Air flight at about 5pm.

Each evacuee received a $100 stipend courtesy of the FG, and a free Airtel SIM card, courtesy of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) and the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC).

Editor’s note: The featured image was used for illustrative purposes.


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