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We’ve not abandoned our citizens abroad, says FG

The Federal Government of Nigeria has described reports and claims of some people that it has abandoned Nigerians stranded in other countries to their fate as misleading.

This was disclosed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama while explaining the predicaments facing government’s efforts at evacuating Nigerians willing to return home.

Onyeama disclosed that the government had been faced with the difficulty of finding facilities to host returnees.

While speaking at the daily press briefing by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic, Onyeama said those willing to return home were in their thousands but the logistics for holding the numbers had proven problematic.

According to him, “to say their predicament is because of the delay of the Nigerian government in evacuating them is not totally correct because you can only evacuate when everything is ready here in the country.

“We have Nigerians who want to come back from all over the world. The numbers in UK alone is about 2,000.

“The simple fact of the matter is that we just don’t have the isolation centres, hospital beds and hotel to accommodate them all. We have been looking for hotels in Abuja and Lagos.

“I spoke this afternoon with the governor of Lagos State and his real challenge, even for the government of Lagos State, is to find hotels that are willing to take these people in for the 14 days.

“A lot of hotels feel clearly it would damage their brand and have some effect on their business, so that has been a real problem for us now.

“Then the other alternative is for people to come back then be isolated in their homes. But when you have such numbers, some of the people on the task force feel that there is a risk that you would not have the guarantee that they would stay in their homes and be under quarantine.

“And it would be very difficult to monitor that number of people for two weeks. So this is the real dilemma we are facing.

“And if they start coming back and the numbers start spiking, then the government will be blamed that why did you bring so many people back?

“So, these are all the issues we are grappling with. But hopefully, we will find a solution to that.”

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