Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, gave the assurance in an address to welcome the returnees on Thursday in Abuja.

“I am very pleased that the directives given by President Muhammadu Buhari to assist all Nigerians, who wish to voluntarily return to the country as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, has been complied with.

“We have received 177 of our Nigerian migrants from Niger Republic. We welcome and empathise with you for the suffering, deprivations or inconveniences you might have encountered.

“This group of 177 we are receiving today comprises 122 adults and 55 infants and children. Out of the 122 adults, 74 are males while 48 are females.

“The federal government has assembled an inter-ministerial team to ensure that arrangements are in place to receive, accommodate, feed, generally take care of you and respect your dignity and rights as valued Nigerian citizens.

“In line with the revised Quarantine Protocol from the PTF on COVID-19, please note that arrangements are in place to test you within 72 hours of your arrival.

“We also have a commitment from our partner in this task, the International Organisation of Migration, to provide additional care for you in line with Standard Operating Procedure and international protocol of reintegration of Returnees,” she said.

Farouq also said that the inter-ministerial and multi-agency team would do everything possible to make their short transitional stay in Abuja hitch-free.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Farouq was represented at the event by the Federal Commissioner, National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, Mr Basheer Mohammed.

One of the returnees, Miss Favour George, told NAN that she had set out to travel to Europe, but was arrested in Niger Republic

“I lost valuables, including monies, in the course of the journey as the road was rough and robbers normally attack travelers.

“I really appreciate the federal government for giving me the opportunity to start a new life.”

Another returnee, Mohammed Mohamad, a 24-year-old man from Kano State, said he was on his way to Algeria before proceeding to Europe but was arrested in Niger Republic and kept in a camp

“But, I am happy to be back. I will want to further my education and get a good life.

“My advice to Nigerian youths is that they should not travel the way I did. It is not easy and it is terrible. Now, I have come back to my senses,” Mohamad said.