Officials of the Federal and Rivers State Governments on Sunday received 491 Libyan returnees at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
While the Federal Government delegation was led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, the Secretary of the Rivers State Government, Sir Kenneth Kobani led the delegation of the state government.
The team that received the 491 returnees included Immigration officials, NEMA staff, NAPTIP, military personnel and officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Speaking at the reception for the returnees, the Secretary to the Rivers State Government, Sir Kenneth Kobani stated that the programme was strictly a programme of the Federal Government.
He thanked the President for the effort in bringing back stranded Nigerians who have suffered indignity in Libya.
He said: “As a state government, we had no choice really. Let me say that the Rivers State Governor made it clear to me that we should do everything possible to make sure that this exercise is handled smoothly and that the Rivers State Government would do everything in its power to assist the Federal agencies handling this programme.
“Because above everything else, we are all Nigerians and this programme is a clear indication that when Nigerians work together, we can achieve anything.
“What you are seeing here today clearly shows that our governor and indeed the President feel same about this issue.”
The Secretary to the Rivers State Government noted that when issues concerning Nigeria are brought to the fore, everyone must come together to stop the enslavement of Nigerians.
“On behalf of the Rivers State Governor, His Excellency, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, I will like to thank President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and his team who worked tirelessly to make the return of our brothers and sisters home”.
Also speaking, Geoffrey Onyeama, Foreign Affairs Minister , said that there were stories of the exploitation and suffering of the stranded Nigerians which compelled the Federal Government to act decisively.
He said: “We made it clear to the Libyan Government that we want to see all Nigerians there.We insisted that we should see all of them. Instead of hearing from them. We made it clear that they (Libyans) are signatories to international conventions and we expected them to have control of those who guard our children.
“They cooperated with us. It was because of the respect for Mr President.
There were people who were making money from these children and did not want them to return home. We carried out a rigorious outreach to ensure that we have everybody back.”
He said the programme is an ongoing process that will continue till all the stranded Nigerians return home.
He said: ” The Libyan government has got the message that as far as they are Nigerians, there is zero tolerance from this government for this type of molestation.”
All the returnees were profiled at the designated booths at the airport.