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Ukraine invasion: FG evacuates 779 Nigerians from Poland, Romania, Hungary

The federal government has evacuated 598 Nigerians, mostly students, who fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries amid an invasion by Russia.  They arrived at Nnamdi Azikiwe…

The federal government has evacuated 598 Nigerians, mostly students, who fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries amid an invasion by Russia. 

They arrived at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja in two batches onboard Max Air and Air Peace flights.

While the first batch of 415 passengers arrived aboard Max Air from Romania, the second batch of 183 passengers arrived from Poland at 6:30pm aboard Air Peace.  

They were received by the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk; Director-General, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Alh. Mustapha Habib Ahmed; and Federal Commissioner, National Refugees Commission for Migrant and Internally Displaced, Imam Suleiman Ibrahim.  

The federal government gave each of the returnees $100 (about N48,000) to ameliorate their sufferings.  

Farouk said another batch of 181 returnees was being expected from Hungary last night.

President Muhammadu Buhari


However, there were indications that many of the stranded Nigerians refused to board the flight from Poland despite the arrangement made by the government.

Ambassador Bolaji Akinremi, Director, Consular and Legal department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and coordinator of the evacuation exercise, explained that 50 Nigerians were still stranded in Poland because the aircraft was filled.

According to him, the stranded Nigerians were told that whenever a sizeable number of them were available, an aircraft would be sent to bring them back. 

He also explained that some other Nigerians who did not want to come back said they were scared of losing their education. 

Leaving Ukraine a bitter-sweet feeling – Evacuee   

Wegwu Kella, a student of Dnipro Medical Institute, Ukraine, described leaving Ukraine as a sweet-bitter feeling.

Kella was among those that arrived by 7:11am, via Max Air on Friday.

Sharing the bombing and difficult experiences she went through before getting to the border, and her final departure to Nigeria, she said, “Ukraine still remains my home”.

“Leaving in Ukraine was a bittersweet feeling. I’m not quite happy about it because I’m leaving school. I mean Ukraine is my home now … but at the same time, at least I’m safe and going home to my loved ones and thanks for the opportunity to go home” she said while fielding questions about her feelings as she touched down the Nigerian soil.

Kella also revealed some nasty experiences she had in Ukraine.

“I was actually in another city two weeks before the bombing started because, from social media, they were telling us, warning us that they were going to invade. So, I left the capital city two weeks ago. 

“When I was leaving to the border, I have to stay there 24 hours in the cold. I have to walk down for six hours straight and have to spend four hours more getting to the border gate but they were just letting only the Mums and the kids in.  

“So I have to go back and get another bus and spent another 24 hours to cross the border again before I made it.  

She described her return to Nigeria as a miracle.  

“Coming here, I didn’t know how I got here actually because I was going to miss this flight, I didn’t go to the embassy yesterday to write my name down and I was told that the plane was filled up but to wait if any opportunity arises.

“Luckily for me, I was right in front of the line, and… and I boarded. Yeah! I’m here now,” she said with excitement.  


Students stayed back at their own risk – Envoy    

The Nigerian Ambassador to Poland, General Christian Ugwu, has told parents of Nigerian students who refused to board the flight that “they will be remaining at their own risk.”  

The envoy, in an interview with journalists at the Polish Airport, urged parents to counsel their wards and children to come back.

“When the crisis in Ukraine subsides, they will be back to the country. Remaining in Poland will be a difficult thing for them because we know what is obtainable in this place,” he said. 


I’ll continue to defend interest of Nigerians – Buhari

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed the commitment of his administration to continue to defend the interest of Nigerians wherever they may be.  

The president spoke Thursday in Nairobi, Kenya at a Townhall Meeting with a group of Nigerians resident in the country.   

“We have demonstrated this over time, as we have had cause to evacuate our citizens in harm’s way abroad. We did it in Libya, South Africa and we have just commenced doing the same in Ukraine, where thousands of our citizens, especially students, are trapped by the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine,” he said.   

Buhari who was represented at the event by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffery Onyeama, reiterated that it was the determination of the current administration to forge a partnership with the ‘Ambassadors-at large’ towards building the country together that led to the establishment of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM).  

The president, in a statement issued by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, assured them that the administration was forging ahead with the provision of critical infrastructure for the collective prosperity of all despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and activities of terrorists.  


Displaced students may complete programmes in Poland, Romania – FG

Also, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gabriel Aduda, while receiving the first batch, said the displaced Nigerian students might complete their studies in European countries including Poland, Romania, Hungary and Greece.

“Government is already talking with the government of Poland, Greece, Romania and Hungary to see if those of them in their fifth and sixth medical year can actually go back to the universities in these countries to complete their studies,” he said.

Muideen Olaniyi, Hamisu Kabir Matazu & Maureen Onochie

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