- Category: International
- Published on Thursday, 24 February 2011 07:48
- Written by ThisDay
- Hits: 2334
As Libyan leader, Muammar Ghadafi, continued to massacre protesters Wednesday, President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered the immediate evacuation of Nigerians living in the crisis-stricken North African country.
The Libyan leader has reportedly lost control of more cities as anti-government protests continue to sweep the country despite his threat of a brutal crackdown, Al Jazeera reported.
Lebanon refused to grant landing permission to a private plane belonging to one of the sons of Ghadafi.
The plane was transporting the Lebanese wife of Hannibal Ghadafi to her home country and several members of Libya's ruling family were also onboard the plane.
Also, the daughter of the Libyan strongman was rejected landing in Malta and her plane had to fly back to the troubled country.
Ghadafi’s threat and the continual killings created a state insecurity prompting foreign governments to seek for ways of evacuating their citizens.
Two pilots who were sent to bomb street protesters in Bengazi abandoned their jets to crash while they escaped by parachutes.
In Abuja, the Director General of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Muhammad Sani-Sidi, spoke of Jonathan’s evacuation order, adding that the team selected for the exercise would rely on the past similar operation in Cairo, Egypt where over 1000 Nigerians where successfully evacuated within 48 hours of the presidential directive.
“The Federal Government is very concerned about welfare, wellbeing and safety of its citizens who are in distress in any country and would do whatever it takes to protect them from the hardship,” Sani-Sidi said.
On Tuesday, the Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on the Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, had kick-started the evacuation campaign by calling on the Federal Government to rescue Nigerians living in the country taking into cognisance the fact that air strikes were being used against the protesters.
Elsewhere, protesters in Libyan city of Misurata said they had wrested the western city from government control. In a statement on the internet, army officers stationed in the city pledged “total support for the protesters”.
The protesters also seemed to be in control of much of the country's east, and an Al Jazeera correspondent, reporting from the city of Tobruk, 140km from the Egyptian border, said there was no presence of security forces.
“From what I've seen, I'd say the people of eastern Libya are the ones in control,” said Hoda Abdel-Hamid,
Major-General Suleiman Mahmoud, the commander of the armed forces in Tobruk, told Al Jazeera that the troops led by him had switched loyalties.
“We are on the side of the people,” he said. “I was with him in the past but the situation has changed - he's a tyrant.”
Benghazi, Libya's second largest city, was where people first rose up in revolt against Ghadafi's 42-year-long rule more than a week ago. The rebellion has since spread to other cities despite heavy-handed attempts by security forces to quell the unrest.
But Franco Frattini, the Italian Foreign Minister, said there were “credible” reports that at least 1,000 had died in the clampdown.
Amid the turmoil, a defiant Ghadafi has vowed to quash the uprising.
He delivered a rambling speech on television on Tuesday night, declaring he would die a martyr in Libya, and threatening to purge opponents “house by house” and “inch by inch”.
He blamed the uprising in the country on “Islamists”, and warned that an “Islamic emirate” had already been set up in Bayda and Derna, where he threatened the use of extreme force.
He urged Libyans to take to the streets and show their support for their leader.