Monday, September 26, 2011

Foreign Minister says no no Gaddafi men in Nigeria

There is no confirmation that some Muammar Gaddafi loyalists have entered Nigeria from neighbouring countries such as Niger,  Foreign Minister Olugbenga Ashiru has said.

Ashiru told Nigeria reporters covering the 66th UN General Assembly in New York that speculations that Gaddafi’s men had entered some states in Nigeria were untrue.

“Our security agencies are on the alert and I can assure you that anybody who enters Nigeria will be promptly deported from wherever he or she came from,’’ the minister assured.

The minister also said he did not believe Gaddafi or any of his associates would seek asylum in Nigeria.

“I don’t believe that will happen, maybe they will prefer not to come to Nigeria for obvious reasons and I don’t think anyone should express that kind of anxiety,’’  the minister said

Niger, which borders Nigeria in the north, confirmed the presence of some senior Gaddafi officials and at least one member of his family in the country.

Nigerien authorities also confirmed that they were keeping one of Gaddafi’s sons,Saadi, under surveillance along with several others who fled to the country, including Gen. Ali Kana, who commanded Gaddafi’s southern troops.

Interpol has issued arrest warrants for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, all wanted by the International Criminal Court for suspected crimes against humanity.

About  200 Nigerians still in Libya

Ashiru also told reporters in New York on Saturday that in spite of   the “massive evacuations’’ authorised by the Federal  Government in February and March, some Nigerians still chose  to remain in Libya.

The minister quoted said that  “the last plane that left Libya was virtually empty.”

In March, the National Emergency Management Agency revealed that 4,000 Nigerians were evacuated from Libya.

The minister, however, said he was in touch with some Nigerians still in Libya and had received information that none of them had been killed .

He said the government had contacted Libya’s Transitional National Council (TNC) authorities on the need to ensure the safety of her nationals that were still in the country.

The minister said the TNC had assured him of their safety, adding that his interaction with them confirmed that “they are fine.’’

“There was particular guy (Nigerian) in Libya who sent an SMS to Nigeria which was also forwarded to me.

“I have been in touch with him several times and each time I call him I will ask him how Nigerians there (in Libya) are doing and he will assure me that they are fine.

“I have also asked to know the problem of some those who were arrested and later released, but no one was killed.

He said the Nigerian government was still assessing the security situation in the North African country.

“We will continue to assess the situation and we want to make sure that everything is stable and secure.

“At the appropriate time when we think the situation has stabilised we will take a decision,’’ he added. (NAN)


Related stories: Pro Gaddafi fighters flee to Nigeria

Video - Nigerians mistaken by Libyan rebels to be mercenaries for Pro-Ghadafi forces

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