By Doyin Ojosipe & Tobias Lengnan Dapam with agency report
Despite the World Health Organization (WHO)’s declaration of Nigeria as a country free from the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), not less than 30 Nigerian students were still deported yesterday from Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, after being detained for three hours at the airport.
The declaration of Nigeria as Ebola-free nation by WHO, was validated on October 20th, 2014, exactly 42 days after suspected Ebola patients had tested negative and further released from quarantine.
One of the students, Fatimah Ahmed Abubakar, a second-year Medicine student, narrated her ordeal in the hands of the Sudan immigration authorities.
According to her, Nigerian students were initially singled out among the arriving passengers and asked to step to one side, after which they were detained for almost three hours without any explanation.
She added that their international passports were further seized and when they enquired why such humiliating attitudes were meted on them, they were asked to shut up and be quiet, while plans were being made to return them to Nigeria through Ethiopia.
“We were not screened, they just told us to step aside and the next thing, our passports were seized from us and they told us, we should leave their country. We tried to know the reason, but there was no cogent reply, only one person said, it could be because of Ebola, who seemed not to be sure of the claim,” she added.
Fatimah also explained that all their efforts to get the Nigerian Embassy in Khartoum to intervene proved abortive as the Sudan Immigration authorities were bent on deporting them, and did not allow them any breathing space.
She further revealed that they were made to pay not less than 500 dollars each to reclaim their individual passports which were not returned to them until after returning to Nigeria.
Another victim, Hauwa’u Ibrahim Bakori, a second year student of Pharmacy at Al Ahfad University for Women, Omdurman, said she and other students were denied entry after arriving Khartoum Airport on Wednesday.
They were detained, and then deported to Nigeria the following day, said Bakori, who is in her second year at the Sudanese university and had travelled to Nigeria on holidays.
The Nigerians had travelled to Khartoum via an Ethiopian Airline flight ET 910 from Abuja on Wednesday, travelling via Addis Ababa. But on arrival in Khartoum, authorities seized their passports, and arranged boarding passes for them to return to Nigeria.
They were sent back to the Nigerian capital via the same Ethiopian Airline on Thursday.
When Peoples Daily contacted, the Nigeria Immigration Public Relations Officer (PRO), Chukwuemeka Obua, he could neither confirm nor deny the information. He only said he had not been cleared to speak on such matter.
Also, the Information Officer of the Embassy of Sudan, Mohammed A. Rahmon, said he was on casual leave but promised to send the number of another person in the Embassy who will speak on his behalf. But hours later, when our reporter called back it was not received nor was the reminder text he sent replied to as at press time.