- Nigerians trapped in Ukraine are of the opinion that they are being evacuated from one crisis country to another
- According to them, they are not safe in Nigeria either as the West African country is also battling with its own crisis
- Austin Okai, a popular political activist and PDP chieftain said that Ukraine at war is safer than the current situation in Nigeria
Amid the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, some Nigerians have shared their thoughts over the plight of citizens trapped in the European country.
In a WhatsApp call with Legit.ng, a Nigerian in Ukraine has expressed concern over their predicament, saying despite the current situation, he is unwilling to return to Nigeria at this point.
The individual who spoke with our correspondent without revealing his name is concerned about the current insecurity in Nigeria. He told Legit.ng:
"Where are they evacuating us to? From pillar to post? Is it not better to stay in Ukraine than to return us to Nigeria where the worse form of crisis is going on?
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"The attention of the world is on Ukraine, and I feel safe here than returning home amid kidnapping, banditry, economic hardship and others. There is crisis of hunger and poverty in Nigeria, and that is more terrible than a physical war.
"Here, you can hide somewhere, but in Nigeria, can you hide from fuel scarcity?
"If I'm leaving Ukraine for now, it's definitely not going to be to Nigeria. There are options of evacuating to Poland or other countries."
Nigerians stranded in Ukraine amid Russian invasion
Legit.ng reports that Ukraine has come under heavy attack following Russia’s invasion in the guise of trying to demilitarize the country.
Since the incident, the Nigerian government had made several attempts to evacuate its citizens, especially those studying in the country.
The federal government through the federal ministry of foreign affairs had said on Friday, February 25, that it will be dangerous evacuating Nigerians from Ukraine when the country had shut down its airspace.
This followed the Save Our Souls message sent out by the National Association of Nigerian Students in Ukraine.
The minister of foreign affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama had said that the government was concerned about the safety of Nigerian students, but noted it would be very risky to evacuate them when the airspace is shut.
As at Saturday, February 26, a notice was issued to Nigerians still in Ukraine that they would be evacuated from the country through the Nigerian embassy in Poland.
The notice says following the recent happenings in Ukraine, all Nigerians moving to Poland would be received by Nigerian officials in the country's embassy and they are expected to present to the border controls 02-953, Kosiarzy 22B, 02-956 Warszawa as their destination address.
It's yet unknown if the stranded Nigerians would be returned to the country or would be kept temporarily in Poland.
Nigerian student laments in Ukraine
But a Nigerian, Somto Orah, a student at State University of Telecommunications in Kyiv, told Al Jazeera that he is currently stranded alongside other Nigerian students in the troubled country.
Somto said no government officials have come to their aides despite claims by the Nigerian government that they are on top of their situation.
The Nigerian also complained of hunger, saying they could not withdraw money for two days now because all ATM machines have been shut down.
Activists worry about situations in Ukraine, Nigeria
Meanwhile, some Nigerians have expressed concerns over the development. While some have commended the government's effort so far, others have opined that they are being evacuated from one crisis country to another.
According to them, they are not safe in Nigeria either as citizens back home are also in crisis.
A popular political activist and PDP chieftain, Austin Okai told Legit.ng that till tomorrow, Ukraine at war is safer than the current Nigeria.
Okai, while condemning the Nigerian government's inability to act before now despite warnings from the United States and Britain where their citizens hurriedly left Ukraine, said Nigeria in her usual way will wait till the fire is on before acting.
"Even at that, why coming here when you can be killed by bandits, militia groups in southeast, bandits in the North West, Boko Haram in the North East, kidnappers in the southern part or Fulani killers in North Central."
Okai went on to advise Nigerians in Ukraine to seek refuge in a safer place where the whole world is monitoring the happening than coming here, "to die in an isolated nation called Nigeria where human lives is worthless."
Also, a Kaduna-based political commentator, Jerry Sabson, faulted the government for its slow action, saying, the government was not proactive in its attempt to evacuate Nigerians in Ukraine.
According to Jerry, when Russia was arranging its military and sophisticated equipment to invade Ukraine, Nigerian government ought to have studied the situation and should have understood that Putin would not retreat considering the number of hardware he moved to the broader.
"He did that in 2014 and did not retreat. He moved more soldiers and war equipment now than in 2014 which is enough reason to start moving Nigerians.
"Now, the war has begun, the airspace is not safe. The missiles could easily hit private or commercial airbuses. I feel it is late and the wrong time to embark on such a mission."
Toeing the line of Okai, Jerry said it is safer for some of them to stay back if they are returning to Zamfara, Katsina, Maiduguri or Birnin Gwari where bandits and Boko Haram are controlling territories, imposing taxes, kidnapping for ransom, rap*ng girls or women, killing and destroying property.
According to Jerry:
"They commit these atrocities at will with high level of impunity and our security personnel have shown that they can’t solve the problem. It is even better to stay in Ukraine knowing fully that help from the global community is coming soon."
Nigerian embassy sends out warning
Legit.ng recalls that the Nigerian embassy in Ukraine had earlier advised Nigerians in the country to be responsible for their personal security and safety.
The advice was given shortly before the invasion of the country by Russia.
Many Nigerians and other foreigners are currently trapped and efforts are on to evacuate some of them if a peace deal is not reached between the two countries on record time.
FG holds closed-door meeting with Russian, Ukrainian envoys
In a previous report by Legit.ng, the federal government on Friday, February 25, met with ambassadors of Russia and Ukraine to Nigeria, Alexei Shebarshin and Kirdoda Valerii respectively.
Top on the meeting's agenda was the safest way to actualise the evacuation of Nigerians from both countries that are currently at war.