Following the plea made by several Nigerians who are stranded in Dubai, today makes exactly one month they have spent with CID from the Dubai Police as Federal Government has been unable to bring them back to Nigeria
The Nigerian Observer reports that the girls made desperate pleas for help after they alleged that they were abandoned by officials of the Nigerian Embassy in Dubai after spending about one week before they were attended to have still not been able to come back to the country
Sources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who refused to mention their names claim that Nigeria’s Federal Government has been unable to return the stranded citizens back to the country following the astronomical rise in the cost of aviation fuel.
This is because a round trip from Abuja/Lagos to Dubai costs a little above $700 dollars, and a return trip from Dubai to Lagos or Dubai to Abuja costs between $350 to $450
This is approximately over 70 million naira at the current exchange rate for about 300 hundred citizens
DUBAI DETENTION CAMP
The citizens, many of them girls and women who were trafficked by traffickers had opted to return back to the country after discovering life in Dubai was not a bed of roses.
Some of them escaped from their captors when they discovered there was an open opportunity to return back to the country.
A chat with several of the girls reveal that life in the detention camp located at Al Aweer in Dubai was also another challenge.
From poor feeding to insufficient food being provided, they have had to endure hoping a miracle will happen and they can return back to the country.
Despite being threatened by the CID not to make videos, some of them braved the odds and sent videos of their plight to Journalists to help tell their stories.
In fact, it was after the first set of videos were released that officials of the Nigerian Embassy finally decided to visit the camp and profile the girls.
Though that gave them hope at the initial stage, however one month down the line, hope is gradually fading as it seems Nigerian Government has refused to come to take them back home, in fact as of last week, they have been told that those who can raise their transport back to the country are free to leave the camp
NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT RESPONSE
Following the embarrassment caused by the videos which circulated online, Nigerian officials were quick to go profile the girls
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues a statement on August the 21st claiming efforts are being put in place to return the girls back to the country and denied that the Nigerian mission had abandoned the girls.
The spokesperson of the Ministry Francisca Omayuli described the videos circulating online as misleading and false
“The attention of the Federal Government of Nigeria has been drawn to news making the rounds on social media that the Nigerian Mission in the UAE has abandoned some stranded Nigerians in that country and is making it difficult for them to return home.
The allegation is completely untrue and misleading as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Nigerian Mission have been working assiduously with the UAE authorities to assist over 300 Nigerians stranded in the country for various reasons, ranging from overstay, lost passports, lack of documentation especially in the case of infants, to pending cases with the Emirati Police.”
Omayuli said that the Nigerian Mission in Dubai was working round the clock to ensure the girls are speedily brought back home
“The affected Nigerians are among nationals from other African countries in custody at the holding centre of Al Aweer Immigration Office, pending the consideration of their cases and conclusion of the legal processes by the relevant authorities before repatriation.
The Nigerian Mission has since the commencement of the saga on 15th August 2022 been working hard to collate the details of the stranded Nigerians with a view to issuing Emergency Travel Certificates (ETC) to those of them with no means of identification.”
She however stated that the mission was facing legal difficulties in trying to return them back to the country as many of the stranded citizens would require to be cleared
“Some of the affected Nigerians have fines of over $10,000 per person. The UAE Government is willing to waive the fines for those who are unable to pay, however, not without the attendant penalty of 10-year ban from the UAE.
Those in police custody for other alleged offenses must be cleared, while those without documentation or means of identification especially infants will go through legal procedures for rectification.”
Also the Chief Executive of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission Dr Abike Dabire Erewa in a statement signed on August the 18th by her media and communication unit, reacted to the issue stating that documentation was ongoing for them.
“..profiling of some Nigerians stranded in Dubai is being carried out by the Nigerian Consulate in Dubai ,at a holding centre in the country”
She said the commission was working with the Ministry to ensure their speedy return
“…once the profiling process is done the consulate and Embassy will brief the Minister of Foreign Affairs and necessary actions will be taken on the next steps.”
Since the statement Issued by NIDCOM on August the 18th, over three weeks have passed without any considerable progress
Some of the girls at the camp have received threats by their captors as private chats obtained in the course of filing this report reveal that some of them were threatened with death and madness if they do not return to their Madam
Pictures obtained in the course of writing this report reveal that some of the trafficked victims were sent pictures of their underwear and told they would turn mad in seven days’ time if they do not return and continue working for their madam
In fact no word has been heard from the National Agency for Trafficking in Persons NAPTIP, as it was hoped that many of the girls present an opportunity to burst the Nigeria-Dubai trafficking syndicate once and for all
A chat with some of the stranded Nigerians reveal that they were issued out-passes on September the 10th after being relocated from the Al Aweer immigration camp but because of the non-provision of an evacuation plane by the Federal Government, they will be evacuated in batches and subject to the availability of seats and any Dubai outbound plane to Nigeria
Some of them expressed fear that their out passes were expiring on the 26th of September and after the expiration, they were in fear that they would be on their own
One of the girls spoken to quoted a consulate official as saying there is no plane for their evacuation
“one of the officials that came today said Nigeria has not provided any planes for us to leave, so we should be praying that we see space in any traveling plane”
She expressed worry that they have been abandoned and neglected by the government
Another of the girls we tried to contact revealed that the long wait is becoming increasingly difficult as their health is deteriorating
“Please sir, any outcome on our issues, I’m very sick sir and I need serious help to go to Nigeria”
She like other victims are gradually losing hope as they have become stuck between the non-response by Nigeria’s government and the fear that they have become abandoned