Nigeria releases Kenyans held in Chinedu saga

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Nigerian authorities have released Kenyans held in Nigeria following successful negotiations carried out by the two governments.

Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed announced on Wednesday evening that the Kenyan officials would be travelling back to Nairobi after the two sides “resolved” the conflict.

“Greetings, good news for Kenya as all the Kenyans held up in Nigeria are on their way back home,” she wrote on her Twitter page on Wednesday.

“I wish to thank the Kenyan Mission in Nigeria for the help, care and consular support provided to the Kenyan citizens as we resolved the issue.”

The Kenyans, whose exact number remain unknown, were held up on arrival at a Lagos airport on June 3 after accompanying controversial Nigerian businessman Anthony Chinedu and two of his compatriots; Christopher Nnanyelu and Oluwatosin Adebiyi. Kenyan authorities argued the three were drug traffickers.

Last week, Ms Mohammed told journalists the government was negotiating with Nigeria over the matter although she did not explain why the officials had been detained. According to the Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary, the officials had the necessary travel documentation and the plane had been cleared to fly into Nigerian airspace.

But last Friday, the Nigerian government stated that the aircraft had been detained because it flouted “laid down procedures.”

Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) General Manager for Public Affairs Yakubu Dati said the Kenyan aircraft breached the aviation rules and security regulations required of them. The flight manifest indicated the plane had 15 people on board. Nigeria argued the aircraft actually had 18.

“The aircraft which landed at the MMIA (Murtala Muhammed International Airport) at about 6.36 p.m. with 18 passengers, including three deportees from Kenya did not follow laid down procedures.”

Mr Dati added that officials of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and some security officials “discovered some lapses during routine checks” on the aircraft but added that “the aircraft will be released immediately the security personnel complete their checks.”

It was not clear what the two governments had agreed but Ms Mohammed said the negotiations were primarily undertaken by Kenya’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, Thomas Amollo, who had also been hosting the detainees.

It is also understood that Kenya offered to collaborate with Nigeria on any future deportations related to drug trafficking. A Nigerian High Commission official who sought anonymity told the Nation on Wednesday that Nigerian authorities had demanded to be involved in any expulsion of its nationals from Kenya.-nation.co.ke

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