May Nigeria never experience war – Sudan returnees pray as they recount their ordeals

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No fewer than 376 stranded Nigerians in war-torn Sudan have returned to Nigeria on Wednesday, May 3, 2023, following President Muhammadu Buhari’s intervention.

They were received by a delegation of the Federal Government comprising Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouk, Director General, National Management Emergency Agency (NEMA), Ahmed Mustapha and Chairman/CEO of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

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Narrating their horrific experience, to the media at the Abuja airport on arrival, they prayed that Nigeria never experience war.

One of the evacuated Nigerian students, Halliru Bello, prayed that Nigeria never experience war as it could crumble the citizens and the nation at large.

He said as a medical student at the International University of Africa, Sudan, his academic programme had been put on hold because of the war that suddenly broke out in the country.

“It started at 11am when we started hearing gunshots and after three days, we started experiencing airstrikes and missiles.

“The next thing we were told was not to leave our homes. No access to the market to buy food and other things,” Bello said.

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“Our experience was a very terrible one, we don’t pray for anyone ever to experience it. If you were not there, you won’t understand what we experienced.

“May Nigeria do all it takes never to experience war. Academic activities of students would be disrupted suddenly, with no access to food and basic amenities, no movement and you may die in the process when you’re hit by a bullet or missile,” he said.

According to him, missiles and airstrikes were suddenly hitting everywhere and the whole activities in Khartoum shut down.

Bello said after three days, the government of Sudan placed an order for other countries to evacuate their citizens, hence, it was at that point Nigerians in Sudan started making their way to the border between Sudan and Egypt.

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He said although the experience was terrifying and frustrating, the Nigerian government made provision for their feeding.

Another student, Aisha Sumaila, who was a nursing student at the International University of Africa in Sudan, said they suffered at the border because the Egyptian officers did not allow them access to the country.

She said the intervention of the Nigerian government eventually made it possible for them to gain access to Egypt.

We paid to bathe, brush teeth

Miss Fathai Alliory said the Nigeria missions in Egypt and Sudan did not take care of them. “They didn’t give us food, they didn’t give us water, they didn’t give us anything, we had to pay to take our bath, you pay to brush your teeth, you pay to do anything you want to do and things were very expensive there.

Refusal of Nigeria missions to pay visa fees delayed our evacuation
“We got to know that one of the reasons that we were delayed for days was that the Nigerian Mission in Egypt was not ready to pay for our visa, so, the Egyptian government was waiting for us to pay for our visa and we learned that the Federal Government gave them money to make all the necessary arrangements for us to leave the country.”

Sharing his experience, Mr. Ibrahim Musa, a student, who lived on the outskirts of the capital, Khartoum, said he was devastated when he heard sounds of gunshots and grenades.
“At the time I started hearing the sound of gunshots, the first thing that came to my mind was to escape and I thank God this is where I am,” Musa said.

I didn’t know I’d ever return to Nigeria

Also speaking, Margaret Dauda, while expressing gratitude to the Federal Government for coming through for them, said they had given up hope of returning to Nigeria.

Her words: “Many other people from different countries are experiencing pain but I thank God for how Nigeria has come through for us because we literally saw the face of death in war. We saw a bullet. That’s something I have never seen or even heard before.

“We woke up on Saturday morning with heavy bombings and fire everywhere. It was that bad. I don’t know how to describe it, it is something that we have not seen before, we only saw it in the movies.”

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