The Ethiopian Government said five Nigerians were among the 193 passengers on board the Rome-bound Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767 hijacked on Monday.
The Ethiopian Minister of Information and Communication, Redwan Hussein, who confirmed this during a press conference in his office in Addis Ababa on Monday said other passengers included 140 Italians, 11 Americans among others.
He apologised to the passengers for the “unduly emotional stress and inconvenience they faced in the course of the hijack.“
He said the suspected hijacker, whose name was given as Hailemedihn Abera Tegegn, 31, was under custody pending investigation by authorities of the two countries.
Accoding to him the Ethiopian Government and its Swiss Counterpart were making effort to expedite the travel of the flight 702 passengers to their intended destination.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Flight 702, with 202 passengers and flight crews left the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa at 12 .30 a.m. local time and was due to land in Rome, Italy at 04:40 a.m. local time.
However, the plane was forced to make an unscheduled landing in Geneva at 6 a.m. local time, according to the airline’s statement issued early on Monday.
Hussein said the act of the said asylum seeking co-pilot was in violation of article 32 of the Ethiopian Constitution, which guaranteed the freedom of citizens to travel out of the country at their time. “It also represents a gross betrayal of trust that needlessly endangered the lives of the very passengers that a pilot is morally and professionally obliged to safeguard.“
He commended the Switzerland Government for the care it provided for the passengers and the prompt apprehension of the suspect. Hussein confirmed that the suspect allegedly locked the cockpit door, when the pilot went to the toilet and hijacked the aircraft.
The official said that the suspect, who is seeking asylum from the Switzerland government was being questioned by the Swiss Police.