The federal government has finally fixed Wednesday, March 2, for the evacuation of Nigerian citizens stranded in Ukraine.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama made this known on Monday during an appearance before the leadership of the House of Representatives.
The Minister spoke at a meeting with Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, disclosing that the first batch of the air-lift of Nigerians is scheduled to take place on Wednesday.
The Speaker assured that the House would give every needed support to the Ministry to ensure successful evacuation of Nigerians back from Ukraine.
Gbajabiamila restated the position of the legislature when he invited the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Godfrey Onyeama, to his office in Abuja on Monday for a meeting on the plight of Nigerians caught in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Onyeama explained that the evacuation earlier planned for Monday was rescheduled for Wednesday to give enough room for the ministry, the House and the Nigerian foreign missions in Ukraine, Poland and Russia to complete the formalities of moving Nigerians from inside Ukraine to safe borders with neighbouring countries.
He reassured the Speaker that things were under control in Ukraine as the Federal Government had put necessary arrangement in place to ensure the safe return of Nigerians.
He said further that in the last few days, the ministry in conjunction with the missions had completed formalities for Nigerians to move to safe border points from where they would be transported in buses to the airports in neighbouring countries.
Onyeama listed Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and even Russia, among the countries to be used as exit points.
According to the minister, there were about 5,600 Nigerian students in Ukraine, added that there were also non-students, some of whom might not have been legally documented.
He informed the Speaker that working closely with the governments of those countries, the ministry had secured their cooperation to grant access to Nigerians into their territories, preparatory for the evaluation.
Onyeama, however, dismissed reports that Africans, particularly Nigerians, were not allowed to leave Ukraine or granted access into the neighbouring countries, blaming the chaos at some of the borders on “panic” and the fact that so many people were rushing at the time on hearing the sound of bombs and artillery fire.
Meanwhile, the situation of the war may begin to abate if reason prevails from the ongoing talks between Ukraine and Russia.
Negotiators from from both countries will return to their capital cities for consultations and have plans for fresh talks, both sides announced Monday after meeting for their first talks since the outbreak of war last week.
“The delegations are returning to their capitals for consultations and have discussed the possibility of meeting for a second round of negotiations soon,” Ukrainian negotiator Mikhailo Podolyak said.
“We agreed to keep the negotiations going,” the Russian delegation head, Vladimir Medinsky was quoted.
Ukraine has listed a shopping list of demands for the negotiation to be seamless. It demanded an immediate Russian ceasefire and troop withdrawal.
It also demanded an “immediate” European Union membership for Ukraine.
Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday, sending shock-waves around the world.
Ukraine forces, backed by Western arms, have managed to slow the advance of the Russian army.
The Ukrainian military also accused Russia of launching a missile strike on residential buildings in the cities of Zhytomyr and Chernigiv, cities in the country’s northwest and north.
In a statement ahead of the peace talk on Monday, the Ukrainian presidency said, “The Ukrainian delegation arrived at the Ukrainian-Belarusian border to take part in talks with representatives of the Russian Federation.
“The key issue of the talks is an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of troops from Ukraine.”