Nigeria’s relations with Russia, Ukraine intact, Says FG

... as Nigerians studying in Ukraine can continue courses online, other nations

The Federal Government on Thursday said its relationships with Russia and Ukraine remain intact despite the ongoing war between the two East European countries.

The Nigerian government also revealed that it had no regrets over its decision to abstain from voting to suspend Russia from the United Nations human rights council over allegations of gross human rights violations in Ukraine.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada, stated this while leading the Ministry officials on Thursday to the weekly briefing organised by the Presidential Communication Team, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

But responding to questions on whether Nigeria was willing to take up Russia’s offer to absorb Nigerian students willing to continue their education, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Gabriel Aduda, said Nigeria would not hesitate, if there are Nigerians who wish to take up the offer.

According to Aduda, “concerning Russia offering admission to Nigerians to study in their universities, one thing we need to understand is that for now, our relations with both Russia and Ukraine are absolutely intact. We have very good diplomatic relations with Ukraine, we have very good diplomatic relations with Russia. And should that offer be put on the table, and we’ll have students that desire to continue, why not?”

Aduda added that Nigerian students, whose programmes were interrupted by the Russia-Ukraine conflict can continue their studies online and physically in other universities that have offered admission to students who wish to continue elsewhere.

He disclosed that asides the universities that have begun virtual classes since the conflict broke out, others in neighbouring states (with similar curricular to Ukraine’s) have offered Nigerian students admission to complete their studies.

He however, explained that all admission processing must be done through the Nigerian missions as this would be the surest way to confirm that interested students were previously enrolled into various programmes in Ukraine.

“Some universities have continued their classes online. But also, some universities in neighbouring countries such as Romania have reached out to us to offer placement to our students who want to continue their studies physically.

“However, all processing must be done through that Nigerian Missions. That is the only way these nations can know that the students were in Ukraine.

“Education desks are being set up in our missions and the government is happy to help get students get placement in universities that have offered to help.

“The forms will be available to students. A lot of students are being taken in. In Romania some universities have opened their hostels to Nigerian students fleeing the war to continue their studies.”

Read also: Six things Nigerians pay more for since Russia-Ukraine war started

While also responding to questions on whether Nigeria regrets abstaining from voting with the outcome of human rights abuse against Russia, Dada said there is no reason to regret.

“On the issue of the UN resolution, any regrets? No regrets whatsoever to what happened. Because we believed that we voted rightly at the time that we did. But again, as regards the finer details you will get to hear from our permanent representatives. Who was there when it happened”, he said.

Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to UN Tijjani Bande, on his part said: “There is absolutely no reason to regret our decision on Russia. There are several choices to be made. One choice will be not to even vote at all and Nigeria has never refused to vote, we always want people to know where we stand on any matter because our position is that, as a country that is a leader on the continent and in the world, no matter how difficult it is, our views must be heard.”

The former President of the 74th United Nations General Assembly, explained that as far as Nigeria is concerned, it was an allegation on Russia, and investigation on human rights abuse against was already ongoing and Nigeria felt the outcome should have been awaited before the vote.

He said: “So long as it’s a member of the Assembly, there is a provision for that via the assembly and Nigeria is convinced an ongoing process to know whether that is true or not. You don’t want me to simply follow anything anybody says because it’s Russia? Because we have to be very clear… I think this is why Nigeria took a position. And we voted for Nigeria’s reasons not because of anybody’s pressure at all.”

The Minister of State while also speaking on the case of the 21 year-old Nigerian trader in Cote d’Ivoire, Itunu Babalola, said the Nigerian government is still seeking justice.

The Minister noted that staff of the Nigerian Embassy in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, paid out of their pockets to procure legal services for Itunu Babalola, who was wrongfully jailed in the country.

Babalola had reported the incident to the police, but the Divisional Police Officer informed her that the suspect was his nephew.

He reportedly offered her a settlement worth roughly N100,000 to drop the case, an amount lesser than the N300,000 worth of stolen effects.

Babalola was subsequently arrested when she refused the settlement, charged to court for human trafficking and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

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