The Federal Government of Nigeria has denied allegations that it is frustrating efforts at evacuating Nigerian students back home to Nigeria.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated this in a statement by its spokesperson, Ferdinand Nwonye, on Thursday.
A video, which has gone viral on social media, showed some students in face masks in Saudi Arabia complaining that both Nigeria embassy and Consulate General of Nigeria in Saudi Arabia, have prevented their return home, citing selfish interests.
They said they have been due to return home for holidays for a couple of months but have been blocked by the Nigerian missions there.
But the ministry said the video in circulation was fabricated by some unpatriotic and ungrateful Nigerian students in Saudi Arabia, alleging that the ministry and its mission in Saudi Arabia have refused to facilitate their evacuation to Nigeria for holiday since May, 2020.
The statement reads: “The attention of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been drawn to a misleading video in circulation, fabricated by some misguided, unpatriotic and ungrateful Nigerian students in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and attendant media reports alleging that the Government of Nigeria, particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja; the Embassy of Nigeria in Riyadh and the Consulate General of Nigeria in Jedda, have deliberately refused to facilitate their evacuation to Nigeria for holiday since 15th May, 2020.
“The group further alleged that the Embassy of Nigeria in Riyadh and the Consulate General of Nigeria in Jedda refused to issue Permits to Students to travel home and failed to secure Over Flight Clearance and Landing Permit for the Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA) to airlift Nigerians from the Kingdom” the statement said.
The ministry further noted that the Nigerian Mission in the Saudi Arabia had been engaging relevant host authorities to facilitate the evacuation of Nigerians from the Kingdom, in line with Federal Government guidelines for the evacuation of Nigerian Nationals stranded in different parts of the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It further explained that, although the Saudi Airlines fixed 8th July and 1st August, 2020 respectively, the Airline never informed the Embassy of the dates or sought for approval of the proposed dates from Nigeria either through the Embassy of Nigeria in Riyadh or the Consulate General of Nigeria in Jedda.
The statement said the act is against the spirit of established diplomatic protocols, hence the inability to operate the said flights.
The statement also stressed that the embassy officials did not demand for any commission or graft from the Airlines as insinuated by the misinformed select Nigerian students.
It stated further that the Nigerian Embassy in the Saudi Arabia had earlier facilitated the evacuation of 117 Nigerians from the Kingdom via Azman Air Services Limited, Flight No: ZQ381 of 19th July, 2020, and is committed in ensuring that the right processes and established guidelines are adhered to in the evacuation of Nigerians.