Geoffrey Onyeama, minister of foreign affairs, says the federal government is working on arranging a special flight to evacuate Nigerians currently in Ukraine — once airports reopen.
Earlier on Thursday, there were explosions around Kharkiv – a city with a population of roughly 1.4 million near the eastern border and approximately 300 miles from the capital city of Kyiv, Ukraine.
The attack came after weeks of speculation about a possible attack on Ukraine by Russia amid growing tension over Ukraine’s attempt to join NATO.
The attack has elicited condemnation from the international community, but Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, says there will be “severe consequences” if foreign powers interfere.
Speaking on the development, Onyeama said the federal government will arrange a special flight operation for Nigerians who are willing to be evacuated from Ukraine.
The minister, who disclosed this in an interview with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), said the federal government would ensure that Nigerians, especially students in Ukraine, are safe.
“We are not going to take any chances and we’ve agreed that they should ask all Nigerians to stay in their residence. What we plan to do is that once the airports are opened, the embassy will assist those who are ready and willing to leave the country,” he said.
“There are five airports and we are now planning on how to get those ones to the airports nearest to where they are saying and assist them to leave the country.
“The advice that we were getting was that we should not panic, that Nigerians in Ukraine should not panic. The embassy was in touch with them, telling them to take reasonable precautions, and which has been ongoing for a while.
“Now, the question of course was whether the Russians would invade and the Russian government itself was saying that they would not invade; the Americans and the UK were saying the invasion was imminent.
“It was very difficult to take a definitive position with regards to advising everybody to leave. On the travel advisory that came out, the last time I spoke with the ambassador about two days ago. I said to him we have to err on the side of caution and that those who want leave should leave and this was issued.
“There were interviews with a number of Nigerian students who said they preferred to stay; that things will calm and they did not feel under any immediate threat.”