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Nigeria’s House of Representatives on Tuesday, called on the Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, and relevant agencies to immediately take diplomatic action with Ukrainian authorities.

The lawmakers want humanitarian needs extended to Nigerians, including students trapped in the war-torn area of Sumy. 

They further urged the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs to interface with, compile and furnish the embassy of the Russian Federation in Nigeria, as well as the Russian Foreign Ministry with full data of all Nigerians in Ukraine.

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The lawmakers also enjoined the government of the Russian Federation to ensure it provides a safe corridor for the evacuation of all Nigerians and other nationals, particularly those trapped in Sumy, Ukraine, in line with the Geneva Convention and other international protocols.

These resolutions were reached at plenary during consideration on a motion brought by the House Committee Chairman on Diaspora, Tolulope Akande-Sadipe (APC, Ogun), and co-sponsored the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu.

The motion which was sponsored under matters of urgent national importance is titled ‘Urgent Call on the Minister of Foreign Affairs to take Diplomatic Action with Ukrainian Authorities to extend Humanitarian Corridor for Exit of Nigerians in Sumy and Parts of the War Zone.’

READ ALSO: Russia/Ukraine Conflict: ‘Some Nigerians do not want to come back’ – Foreign Affairs Minister

The Green Chamber expressed concern over the recent invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, and its attendant effects and implication for Nigerians living in the area. 

It also notes that considering the current war situation in Ukraine, particularly in Sumy and other parts of the war zone, it has become an impedance for the federal government to intensify efforts on diplomatic action to ensure that humanitarian needs are extended to Nigerians.

The House also wants the government to expedite action to evacuate especially students who are stranded in Sumy to enable them exit the country.

READ ALSO: Evacuation of Nigerians stranded in Ukraine commences 

It also notes that there is limited availability of transportation in the affected areas to evacuate those trapped in Sumy.

“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (As Amended) provides in Section 14(2)(b) that the welfare and security of Citizens shall be the primary purpose (responsibility) of government.   

Nigerian citizens have been fleeing Ukraine for their safety, Nigerian students, particularly those who are studying medicine in the Sumy state University are however caged, not having the opportunities of exiting Sumy, as  Sumy is located close to the Russian border and the bridges and train tracks have been blown by Russian forces.

“This situation has put these Nigerian citizens in grave harm’s way and also exposed them to freezing temperatures, harsh and life-threatening conditions, and causing death.”

READ ALSO: Russian Invasion: Reps to airlift Nigerians from troubled Ukraine

Meanwhile, the House expressed worry over the inclement and hazardous weather conditions in Sumy, Ukraine.

The lawmakers also expressed displeasure over the 300 Nigerian Students in Sumy, Ukraine that could not be evacuated despite a Tripartite agreement among the Russian Federation, the United Nations, and the Government of Ukraine.

“These Nigerians are facing very horrible conditions with diminishing food supply, electricity outages, lack of water, and other basic needs.

The most recent harrowing experience involved where a bus carrying some students was escorted back to Sumy when they had already travelled 50km close to a neighboring city and now the hostels are being guarded by Ukrainian soldiers who are preventing them from leaving Ukraine.

“The situation in Sumy is not only of concern to Nigerians, but also to so many countries; and recently, the Indian Prime Minister brought the case to Russian President, Putin, drawing his attention to the presence of his citizens in Sumy. The Russian military had been ordered to create humanitarian corridor for exit of foreigners in those areas.

READ ALSO: Ajaokuta Steel: Reps want briefing on Nigeria-Russia agreement

Similarly, the House expressed concern that the innocent Nigerians in search of the golden fleece and greener pasture were subjected to and caught in a helpless situation.

Meanwhile, the lawmakers called for proactive diplomatic steps in the area of humanitarian support, transportation out of Sumy, and passage to a safe zone.

“The Geneva Convention regarding civilians, prisoners of war (POWs) and soldiers who are otherwise rendered hors de combat (incapable of fighting).

Mindful of the commitment of the 9th House of Representatives to delivering value and ensuring the welfare and protection of Nigerians at home and in every part of the world.”

The motion was overwhelmingly adopted when the presiding officer put the question.

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