President Muhammadu Buhari has approved $8.5 million for immediate evacuation of about 5,000 Nigerians caught in Russia, Ukraine war, even as Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, clarified comments credited to him that Nigeria will Impose sanctions on Russia.
In a statement by his spokesperson, Ms. Sarah Sanda, Onyeama, in the face of calls for caution and social media jokes that Nigeria should not draw the ire of Vladimir Putin of Russia, wrote:
“The attention of the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama has been drawn to an online publication where he was reported to have said in an interview that Nigeria was ready to impose sanctions on Russia for Invading Ukraine.
“The Minister clearly said, We would act in the framework of the UN, and if there was a UN Resolution, we would be obliged, but there would not be because Russia has a veto power.
“For clarity, that portion of the interview is reproduced below:
“Que: “Several countries have imposed sanctions on Russia. Is Nigeria making any practical move in that direction?
“Ans: This is going to be a collective action. The UN has to act, and we are going to act and engage within the framework of the United Nations. So if UN, for instance, adopts and imposes sanctions on Russia, we will comply with UN resolutions on any matter.
“Que: How detrimental would that be to our investments concerned with Russia?
Ans: Certainly, it will have an impact, I’m not sure that we have huge investments in Russia. It’s not a country in which we have huge investments. We have good relations with Russia, but as I said, Russians vetoed the Security Council. They are chairing the Security Council. So it’s gone to the General Assembly.
“Que: Can we bear the anger of Moscow based on our relationship, Nigeria we go the way UN goes?
Ans: You won’t have sanctions because Russia has the veto power in the Security Council, so you will not have a situation when the Security Council is going to accept to impose sanctions on Russia, because Russia has the veto power and is chairing the Security Council.””
Meantime, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that majority of affected Nigerian citizens in the war are currently taking refuge in Poland, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia.
The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Nigeria, Zubairu Dada, alongside the Humanitarian Minister, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk, made this known to State House correspondents at the end of the virtual meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
The meeting was presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday.
Dada disclosed that the approval came after a joint memo presented to the Council by both the ministries of foreign affairs and Humanitarian affairs, disaster management and social development.
“Whatever happens, you can rest assured we are going to run any number of shifts that it will be involved.
”Don’t forget, it will also involve taking care of those Nigerians that may decide not to come back.
”It also includes some assistance for the feeding that may have been done by the missions under whatever arrangements. Even the missions themselves are also in dire situations.
”So, it’s a whole gambit of activities that are involved.”
The minister confirmed that the amount would be released immediately to enable the operations commence today (Wednesday).
On students trapped in Ukrainian cities now in the hands of Russians, Dada said: “We want to believe the Russian armed forces will obey the rules of engagement.
”They know the rules about civilians that are caught up in situations such as this. We want to assume they will respect international laws and ensure that no harm comes to them.
“Don’t forget that even our missions in Ukraine has had to be evacuated.
”So if for any reason any Nigerian is left behind, we are very prayerful, we are hopeful that no harm shall come to them once, of course, they are in some shelters or whatever place they are hiding.
“Don’t forget we had also summoned both the Russian and Ukrainian ambassadors to our ministry, and we did emphasize the need for their troops to ensure that they do not do anything that will harm the lives of innocent citizens.
“We have seen video clips making the rounds about the alleged treatments that had been meted out to black people who were on queues and in buses and all that.
”All these we have brought to the attention of the ambassadors and we have expressed our displeasure at this development and demanded that they do something about this.”
▪︎ Additional reports by NAN