April 9, 2024

The Federal Government has expressed its disapproval of the ongoing registration of Nigerian citizens volunteering to join the Ukrainian Army to resist the invasion of the country by Russia.

Over 150 Nigerians have volunteered to be recruited after the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, urged people around the world to join the fight.

But in a statement on Monday, the spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Francisca Omayuli, said the Federal Government would not tolerate the recruitment.

She stressed that the government would engage with the Embassy of Ukraine in Nigeria and other relevant authorities to prevent this.

The statement read in part, “The attention of the Federal Government of Nigeria has been drawn to an alleged ongoing registration of Nigerian volunteers into the fighting force of Ukraine at the Ukrainian Embassy in Abuja.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs contacted the embassy to verify the speculation. The Ukrainian Embassy refuted the allegation, but confirmed that a number of Nigerians had approached the embassy, indicating their willingness to fight on the side of Ukraine in its ongoing conflict with Russia.

“Furthermore, the embassy clarified that the Ukrainian government is not admitting foreign volunteer fighters and, as such, dissociated itself from the claim that it was requesting $1,000 from each Nigerian volunteer for air ticket and visa.

“As a responsible member of the international community and consistent with our obligations under international law, Nigeria discourages the use of mercenaries anywhere in the world and will not tolerate the recruitment of Nigerians in Nigeria as mercenaries to fight in Ukraine or anywhere else in the world.

“The Federal Government will continue to engage with the Embassy of Ukraine in Nigeria and other relevant authorities to prevent this possibility.”

Nigerian community in Belarus makes evacuation plans for students

Following the recent sanctions imposed on Belarus for aiding and abetting Russia in the invasion of Ukraine, the Nigerian community in Belarus is making plans for the smooth evacuation of its members after the cancellation of flights, shutdown of banks and businesses had made life difficult.

Belarus, a neighbouring country to Russia, has provided help for the super power in its invasion of Ukraine.

This has led to multiple sanctions on both Russia and Belarus. The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has provided support for the transportation of fleeing Nigerians from Ukraine.

In an interview, a member of the Transition Committee, Nigerian Community in Belarus, Dr Oyewo Oyenike, said, “The general requirement for new students has always been to buy return tickets to Belarus, which some new students that came for language courses did through the Turkish Airlines.

“The students in question completed their language courses and decided to return to Nigeria, but unfortunately because of the current crisis, Turkish Airlines flights have been cancelled and the only option is for them to fly with the Belavia (Belarusian Airlines) to Istanbul and then connect with Turkish Airlines flights to Lagos.

“This is, however, not a reason to panic as the Nigerian community in Belarus is working on resolving this.

“The Nigerian community is in contact with the Nigerian Embassy in Moscow for relevant updates, although there’s no current emergency situation for the evacuation of Nigerians here in Belarus and we hope if the need arises, relevant procedures will be taken immediately. Contacts have been made and we’re awaiting a response from the embassy.

“There have been mobilisation in some cities and we’re trying to pursue emergency evacuation plans in case they become necessary. We’ve also got the parents involved and they’re trying their best through the embassy and the foreign ministry.

“It’s been exhausting and full of anxiety because the current crisis was unexpected.

“All the sanctions placed on Belarus have affected everyone one way or another. MasterCards/Visa cards are no longer working. Some banks have been shut down and a lot of businesses are being affected.

“The main challenge is the inability to stay focused for the students due to fear, cancelled flights and others.”

The Nigerian Youth Union, on Monday, called on the Federal Government to adopt more proactive strategies to protect Nigerians abroad, especially during unforeseen emergencies.

The organisation also faulted the slow response of the Federal Government to the safety of Nigerians in Ukraine, especially students, after Russia invaded the European country last week.

The NYU, in a statement by its National President, Chinonso Obasi, lamented that Nigerians were subjected to various acts of social abuse, degradation and molestation at Ukrainian borders due to the nonchalant attitude of the government.

He expressed dismay that the Federal Government delayed in evacuating Nigerians from Ukraine despite early warning signals.

Obasi stated, “There was early intelligence that Russia would invade Ukraine in a matter of days. Governments of other countries mobilised resources and reached out to their nationals in the country, but Nigeria developed indifference.

“We have witnessed this show of nonchalance on many occasions. When the xenophobic attacks broke out in South Africa last year, the Federal Government did not deem it fit to rise for the protection of its citizens until a private citizen, Chief Allen Onyema, volunteered to evacuate them.

“We at the NYU, condemn the penchant of the Federal Government for abandoning Nigerians abroad to their fate without regards to the protection and preservation of their interests in foreign countries. This attitude does not enhance patriotism; neither does it uplift the image of the country in the comity of nations.”

The NYU, however, commended Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, for ensuring that Sokoto indigenes in Ukraine were airlifted early enough when the signs of impending hostilities emerged.

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