Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Foreign Affairs, has said Nigerians evacuated from various countries during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic will have to pay for their mandatory isolation as the country lacks the resources to do so.
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Onyeama stated this at the daily press briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 on Friday.
There has been an uproar, particularly on social media, since Thursday after letters from various Nigerian missions surfaced online, informing voluntary evacuees wishing to return to the country to pay the sum of N297,600 to cover their flight tickets and isolation accommodation.
The letters stated that the payment must be made by the evacuees before their evacuation.
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But speaking on the situation, Onyeama said the returnees could not be housed at the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) orientation camps or school dormitories because each person had to be accommodated in a room and the only option was to keep them in hotels, noting that the best room rate in Abuja was N15,000.
The minister explained that the Federal Government is already footing the quarantine bill for the 620 persons evacuated from the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the United Arab Emirates.
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He said: “This is not by any stretch of imagination something the government is happy to do. As I mentioned, if the resources were there, we would evacuate everybody.”