Details have emerged on how Nigeria secured a passage through the Egyptian borders for Nigerian citizens fleeing ever-increasing fighting in the crisis-ridden Sudan.
There had been reports of difficulties faced by Nigerian officials involved in the evacuation process, including demand by Egyptian authorities for visas before entry, a situation which left thousands of Nigerian evacuees stranded at the border since last week Thursday.
However, the situation turned positive on Sunday when the borders were flung open, with conditions, to Nigerians, following series of deft moves by top security and intelligence operatives in both countries, through some backdoor channels.
According to reliable security sources, Egyptian authorities started admitting Nigerian evacuees on Monday after Nigerian security and intelligence community started deploying their contacts and connections with their Egyptian counterparts, to remove some of the hurdles that had frustrated Nigerian representatives’ efforts.
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Escaping from Sudan
A very highly placed source in the security community, who spoke under conditions of anonymity, in Abuja on Tuesday, said on President Muhammadu Buhari’s instruction, the National Security Adviser (NSA), retired Major General Babagana Monguno, reached out to his Egyptian counterpart, Faiza Abou el-Naga, who pulled strings that have made the evacuation process smooth.
Although the details of the arrangements were not made public, the source said “this initiative, which was broached and complimented by the Egyptian National Security Adviser (NSA), Faiza Abou el-Naga, and her Nigerian counterpart, General Monguno, has so far allowed a smooth movement across the border into Egypt.
“Faiza told NSA Monguno that Nigeria’s request, which he submitted, had been graciously approved by President el-Sisi, who also sent his fraternal greetings to President Buhari. Consequently, the deployment of the NAF aircrafts and the one by Air Peace were to be allowed to proceed with evacuation plans.
“Conditions required for the evacuation plans included details and schedules of the aircrafts, capacity of the aircrafts, strong pledge that once Nigerians depart the border, they would be conveyed to the designated airport, comprehensive list of the evacuees with passport numbers, valid travel documents, i.e passport or emergency travel certificate, and lastly, the presence of Nigerian government officials at the point of embarkation”, the source disclosed.
On April 15, 2023, fight broke out between the Sudanese Armed Forces, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group, led by Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.
The escalating conflict has claimed more than 400 lives, while another 3,500 persons sustained injuries.