The House of Representatives has urged Foreign Minister, Godfrey Onyema and relevant government agencies to take immediate diplomatic action with Ukrainian authorities and extend humanitarian needs to Nigerians, including students trapped in other areas.
The resolution follows a motion titled “Urgent appeal to the Minister of Foreign Affairs to undertake diplomatic action with the Ukrainian authorities to expand the humanitarian corridor for the exit of Nigerians from Sumy and parts of the war” sponsored by the Hon. Tolulope Akande-Sadipe, Chair of the Diaspora Committee during Tuesday’s plenary.
Introducing the motion, Sadipe said: “Given the current war situation in Ukraine, particularly in Sumy and other parts of the war zone, it was plausible that the Federal Foreign Office and relevant agencies are stepping up their diplomatic action efforts to ensure that humanitarian needs have been extended to Nigerians, especially students still stranded in Sumy to enable them to leave the country.
“Means of transport are limited in the affected areas to evacuate the trapped people, including Nigerians.
“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) provides in Section 14(2)(b) that the welfare and security of the citizens shall be the primary objective (responsibility) of government .
“While Nigerian citizens have fled Ukraine for their safety, Nigerian students, especially those studying medicine at Sumy State University, however, are being caged with no opportunity to leave. Sumy, because Sumy is located near the Russian border and the bridges and railways were blown up by Russian forces,” she said.
Noting that Nigerians were still facing very horrendous conditions with dwindling food supply, power outages, lack of water and other basic needs, the legislator expressed concern over the implication of a bus carrying students who were driven back to Sumy, when they had already traveled 50 km. close to a nearby town.
She added that the hostels were now guarded by Ukrainian soldiers who prevented them from leaving Ukraine.
“The situation in Sumy is not only of concern to Nigerians but also to many countries; and recently the Indian Prime Minister took the matter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, drawing his attention to the presence of foreign citizens in Sumy, the army had received the order to create a humanitarian corridor for the exit of foreigners in these areas.
“These innocent Nigerians in search of the golden fleece and greener pastures are being subjugated and caught in a position of helplessness, and if proactive diplomatic steps are not immediately taken to offer humanitarian support to these Nigerian students in under the ceasefire which is only 4 days out, their situation would become very precarious,” said Sadipe.
Contributing to the debate, Deputy Minority Leader Toby Okechukwu called on Russia and Ukraine to provide an exit corridor for trapped foreign nationals.
In his remarks, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Buba Yakub said the students were running out of supplies.
“They are running out of food, the problem is in Ukraine, they are afraid the corridor is a leeway for Russia to attack them. But we cannot allow the Nigerian students there who are over 300 d “be used as shields. The United Nations must intervene,” he said.