National Emergency Management Agency on Monday said the 215 Nigerian fishermen stranded in Gabon had returned to the country, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.

A statement issued by the agency’s Head of Public Relations, Mr. Yushau Shuaib, the Nigerians arrived in the country on Sunday.

The statement said NEMA decided to help the fishermen back in the country after the Gabonese authorities issued an eviction notice to fishermen living in Nende, Mouka and Kenza Islands.

According to the statement, the Nigerians were asked to leave the country even though a majority of them have lived there for decades.

NEMA said the returnees from Bayelsa, Ondo, Akwa Ibom, Imo and Abia states were flown into Port Harcourt International Airport before their onward journey to their respective home states.

The agancy said,The fishermen had indicated their willingness to be returned with their families after the eviction notice.

“Before the evacuation process, the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other agencies made an on-the-spot-assessment.

meanwhile, Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora Affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has criticised the deportation of the fishermen from Gabon.

In a statement on Monday, the lawmaker described the deportation as “unwarranted hostility against Nigerians doing legitimate business in Gabon by the Gabonese government.

She said those deported were involved in legitimate business in central African country and wondered why such people should be humiliated having lived in Gabon for decades and contributed to its development.

Dabiri-Erewa called on the Federal Government and other stakeholders to look into the matter urgently and rehabilitate those affected with human dignity in line with its Citizen Diplomacy policy.

She also called on NEMA to ensure that the deportees were well rehabilitated and taken care of pending the resolution of the matter.

The National Emergency Management Agency on Sunday night evacuated 215 Nigerian fishermen from Gabon to Nigeria.

NEMA said the evacuation became necessary after the Gabonese authorities issued an eviction notice to Nigerian fishermen.

It said the affected fishermen lived in Nende, Mouka and Kenza islands, although majority of them had lived there for many decades doing legitimate businesses.

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