…By Lola Smith for TDPel Media.
The Federal Government of Nigeria has encountered challenges in verifying the citizenship of individuals claiming to be Nigerians in war-torn Sudan.
The government has revealed that there are 160 women who assert their Nigerian identity but lack passports to facilitate their return to Nigeria.
Verification Issues and Lack of Passports:
According to Mustapha Ahmed, the Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), these women, although claiming Nigerian nationality, are unable to provide Nigerian passports to substantiate their claims.
As a result, the government is cautious not to evacuate individuals who cannot prove their Nigerian citizenship back into the country.
Citizenship Verification Challenges:
The Nigerian Diaspora Commission had initially estimated that there were approximately 3 million Nigerians, including 5,000 students, residing in Sudan.
However, after successfully evacuating 2,518 Nigerians from the region, the government announced that the citizenship of others asserting Nigerian nationality could not be verified.
Variety of Claims and Previous Incidents:
Ahmed further explained that while some individuals claimed Nigerian heritage dating back to their great-grandparents up to the fifth generation and asserted that they were born in Sudan, there were instances where desperate Sudanese individuals attempted to board buses designated for transporting Nigerians to the Egypt border.
Costs and Opportunities for Return:
Although the exact amount spent on the evacuation exercise was not disclosed by Ahmed, he mentioned that Nigeria paid $22,662 as exit fees during the transportation of evacuees from Sudan and an additional $62,950 for entry visas into Egypt.
However, NEMA emphasized that any Nigerian with verified documents who is interested in returning to the country can take advantage of the opportunities available.
The issue of verifying Nigerian citizenship for individuals in war-torn Sudan presents a significant challenge for the Federal Government.
The absence of valid passports among those claiming Nigerian nationality raises concerns about the authenticity of their claims.
This situation highlights the importance of proper documentation and the need for robust systems to verify citizenship in order to ensure accurate identification and protection of Nigerian citizens.
Furthermore, the attempts made by some desperate Sudanese individuals to join the evacuation process indicate the complexity of the situation.
The government’s cautious approach demonstrates its commitment to maintaining the integrity of the evacuation process and safeguarding the interests of Nigerian citizens.
The financial costs incurred during the evacuation exercise underscore the government’s commitment to assisting its citizens in distress.
However, the lack of transparency regarding the exact expenditure leaves room for further scrutiny and evaluation of the evacuation process’s efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Despite these challenges, NEMA asserts that it remains open to facilitating the return of any Nigerian citizen with verified documentation.
This emphasis on verified documents reflects the government’s intention to ensure that only individuals with legitimate claims are repatriated, further underscoring the importance of proper identification and citizenship verification procedures in such situations.