By David Olalekan.
The proposed evacuation of Nigerian nationals stranded in South Africa via Air Peace Airlines today, suffered setbacks as a result of inadequate documentation.
According to an official source who spoke to Vanguard on condition of anonymity, the repatriation exercise could be shifted to Monday or Tuesday because a large number of interested returnees do not have travel documents.
The source was quoted as saying: “The Air Peace flight to South Africa will take off from Lagos and land in Lagos. The take off could now be Monday or Tuesday. This is because the Nigerians in South Africa have to take travel certificate because many of them don’t have travel document and their passports had since expired.
“Air Peace has prepared its Aircraft, Boeing 777 for the flight since Tuesday but the Nigerian High Commission needed time to register the Nigerians billed to travel. They are already doing that in Johannesburg and Pretoria.”
It was also gathered that the returnees were allegedly being charged $1000 as registration fee to be eligible to benefit from the flight which was volunteered by the airline.
Confirming the fraudulent charges, the Proprietor of Air Peace Airlines, Allen Onyema revealed a mail sent to him by a Nigerian residing in South Africa.
Onyeama said, “A Nigerian living in South Africa sent mail to the airline requesting to confirm whether the flight is free because some people were already collecting money for the flight.
“Part of the mail sent by a Nigerian resident in South Africa, Fred Okeke read, ‘We heard that you are donating the flight for free evacuation from South Africa to Nigeria, but it is very unfortunate to hear that they are asking the affected victims to pay the sum of $1000 as registration to be eligible to benefit from the fight. So I want to bring it to your notice.'”
The Air Peace boss added, “We are offering free trip to Nigerians in South Africa to return home after going through the traumatic experience of the attacks. Air Peace has said this is free and we are doing it in solidarity with the federal government.
“We have not designated or recruited any agent in South Africa to collect money on behalf of Air Peace. So nobody should pay money to anyone or group of persons posing as Air Peace agent or staff. Any Nigerian who has paid money for repatriation back to Nigeria with Air Peace should request for a refund and report to appropriate authorities.”