I’m not aware of plan to deport 15,000 Nigerian students from Malaysia, says minister

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, has said he was not aware of move by the Malaysian government to deport over 15,000 Nigerian students in the country.

Responding to question from newsmen on Tuesday at the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 briefing, the minister, who assured that he would open discussion with his officials in Kuala Lumpur, insisted that his ministry had no such information.

He added that it would be impossible for the Malaysian government to take such a drastic action in view of the fact that airspace has been closed all over the world.

Even as he maintained that the development was not true, the Foreign Affairs Minister submitted that it was not the fault of the Nigerian students that they were stranded in Kuala Lumpur.

He said: “The second question that there are 15,000 students in Malaysia under threat of deportation, presumably overstaying their visas, I don’t know what the reasons would be for such deportation.

“But we in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs haven’t got such information. Ordinarily, if such a thing were to happen or to be considered, our mission there, we have an embassy there, they would have informed us and we would have engaged with the Malaysian government in respect of that.

“But the global practices at the moment is that every country knows that the airspace has been closed all over the world and if there are people in those countries who through no fault of their own might be forced to overstay the duration of their visas.

“So it isn’t the practise at the moment for government to unilaterally embark on issue of deportation and that’s certainly not how such matter will be dealt with, if indeed that is the case with Malaysia. But we will get in touch with members of our Embassy in Malaysia to verify if that story indeed is the case.”

Responding to question on Nigerians resident in Paris who were planning to board Air France to Cotonou, the Benin Republic with the hope of easy evacuation to Nigeria through the neighbouring country, Onyeama asked them forget about the thought.

He restated his stance that the facilities in Nigeria isolation centres were already overstretched and it would be difficult to accommodate the prospective evacuees from France.

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