Geoffrey Jideofor Kwusike Onyeama
By Levinus Nwabughiogu & Victoria Ojeme
The Federal Government is currently arranging a special flight to evacuate Nigerians trapped in Ukraine, following the invasion of the country by Russia on Wednesday night.
Government’s action came as the House of Representatives , earlier yesterday, asked the government to immediately evacuate Nigerians from the Eastern European country.
Nigeria’s move came as Russia intensified its air, sea and land bombing of Ukraine.
The Nigerian Embassy in Ukrainian capital, Kiev, had also earlier asked Nigerians in the country to remain calm and take responsibility for their personal security and safety.
But Foreign Minister, Geoffery Onyeama, who disclosed government’s evacuation plan on the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, yesterday, said the Federal Government would arrange a special flight for Nigerians who are willing to be evacuated from Ukraine.
Onyeama said: “The Nigerian embassy in Kiev has been contacted to arrange those wishing to return home from other areas, including Donestk and Luhansk.”
He also said the Federal Government had been following the development since it started, and promised that everything would be done to ensure that Nigerians, especially students in Ukraine, were safe.
Remain calm, take responsibility for your personal security
The warning was contained in an Embassy notice, which as Russian President, Vladimir Putin, announced a military operation in Ukraine with explosions heard soon after across the country and its foreign minister warning that a “full-scale invasion” was underway.
The notice read: “The Embassy urges Nigerian nationals resident in Ukraine to remain calm but be very vigilant and be responsible for their personal security and safety.
“The Embassy wishes to add that should any of Nigerian national considers the situation as emotionally disturbing, such nationals may wish to temporarily relocate to anywhere considered safe by private arrangements.
‘’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.
“In addition, in case of students seeking such temporary relocation, they are enjoined to seek proper clearance and guarantee from their respective institutions, authorities/agents on the way forward in respect to their studies during this period and/or thereafter.
“For those who still consider it appropriate to remain in the country, be assured that the embassy remains open for its consular duties and responsibilities at all times. It will always avail you of updates when necessary.”
Evacuate Nigerian citizens in Ukraine now, Reps tell FG
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives, yesterday, urged the Federal Government to immediately commence the evacuation of Nigerian citizens living in Ukraine.
Consequently, the House directed its Majority Leader, Ado Doguwa and Chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Yakub Buba, to liaise with the Foreign Affairs Ministry, National Intelligence Agency, NIA, and Ukrainian embassy to achieve the purpose.
Priority is to be given to Nigerian students in Ukraine.
The House resolution followed a motion of urgent national importance moved at plenary by Ahmed Munir.
The lawmaker prayed the Committees on Foreign Affairs and diaspora, in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to ascertain the exact figure of Nigerians affected by this conflict and put in place a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation mechanism.
Gbaja suggests contact with Air Peace for evacuation
In his remarks, the speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila, suggested an interface with the ministry, NIA and embassy for immediate evacuation of Nigerians in Ukraine.
Gbajabiamila also suggested that should the meeting fail to take urgent decision, the House should immediately contact the chairman of Air Peace, Allen Onyema, regardless of the cost, to head to Ukraine tomorrow (today) and evacuate the students on Monday.
He said: “This is a very important motion that we discussed. Time is of the essence. A state of emergency has been declared, I listened to the news yesterday , even America said it’s not going to be bloodless.”
Adopting the motion, the speaker mandated the Committees on Foreign Affairs and Legislative Compliance to ensure compliance.