Ukraine: After Telling Citizens They’re On Their Own, FG Makes U-Turn, Moves To Evacuate Nigerians

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The Nigerian Government is planning for a special flight operation to evacuate her citizens from Ukraine in view of the escalating tension between that country and Russia.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama in an interview with NTA, said the Nigerian embassy in Kiev has been contacted to make arrangements to get Nigerian citizens willing to leave Ukraine out.

The minister said the government would do everything to ensure the safety of Nigerians in Ukraine, particularly students.

“We are not going to take any chances, we have agreed that we are going to ask all Nigerians to stay in their residence and what we plan to do is once the airports are open, the embassy will assist those who are ready and willing to leave the country,” Onyeama said.

“There are five airports, so we are now planning to get those who want to leave to the airports nearest to where they are staying and assist for them to leave the country.”

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has demanded an immediate evacuation of Nigerians in Ukraine, offering to shoulder the responsibility.

This is a result of the ongoing row between Russia and Ukraine.

At the plenary on Thursday, the lower chamber of the National Assembly mandated the leader of the House, Alhassan Ado Doguwa, the Chairman, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Buba Yakub to liaise with the ministry of foreign affairs on the issue.

This followed the adoption of a motion moved by Ahmed Munir at the plenary on Thursday.

Munir had said the lives of Nigerians are at risk as the crisis might escalate in the coming days, putting Nigerians there in a more precarious situation.

He said, “We have a significant number of undergraduate and graduate students currently studying in Ukraine of which a portion are under government scholarships.

“This is in addition to a number of Nigerian diplomats and their families in the Kiev embassy and Nigerian expatriates across Ukraine.”

Responding, the Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, said House will make an arrangement with Air Peace for possible evacuation of Nigerians particularly students from Ukraine.

This comes hours after the Nigerian Government had urged citizens in Ukraine to be very vigilant and “be responsible for their security and safety”.

“In view of the development, the embassy urges Nigerian Nationals resident in Ukraine to remain calm but very vigilant and be responsible for their security and safety,” Nigerian Embassy had said in a statement.

“The embassy wishes to add that should any Nigerian National consider the situation as emotionally disturbing, such National may temporarily relocate to anywhere considered safe by private arrangement. They should, however, ensure that they do all the needful to validate all their resident documents for ease of return to the country when desired.

“Students seeking temporary relocation are enjoined to seek proper clearance and guarantee form from their respective institutions during this period.

“For those who are still considering it appropriate to remain in the country, be rest assured that the embassy remains open for its consular duties and responsibilities at all times.”