Mistreatment Claims: Nigeria, Other African Nations Scramble To Evacuate Citizens From Ukraine

University students, including many from Nigeria, fleeing from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, stow their luggage as they get on their transport bus close to the Hungarian-Ukrainian border in the village of Tarpa in Hungary on February 28, 2022. (Photo by Attila KISBENEDEK / AFP)

 

Nigeria, South Africa and other African governments scrambled on Monday to help their citizens escape the Russian invasion in Ukraine after reports of racist and unfair treatment of Africans at border crossings.

Africans in Ukraine, many of them students, are among hundreds of thousands of people trying to flee into Poland and other neighbours.

Nigeria on Monday urged border officials in Ukraine and elsewhere to treat its citizens equally.

“There have been unfortunate reports of Ukrainian police and security personnel refusing to allow Nigerians to board buses and trains heading towards the Ukraine-Poland border,” said presidential advisor Garba Shehu in a statement.

Shehu referenced a video on social media where a Nigerian mother with a young baby was filmed being physically forced to give up her seat.

He said there are also reports of Polish officials refusing Nigerian citizens entry into Poland from Ukraine.

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“It is paramount that everyone is treated with dignity and without favour,” said Shehu.

“All who flee a conflict situation have the same right to safe passage under UN Convention and the colour of their passport or their skin should make no difference.”

A group of South Africans, mostly students, were stuck at the Ukrainian-Polish border, the country’s foreign ministry spokesman, Clayson Monyela, said on Twitter.

The South African ambassador to Warsaw was at the site trying to get them through, according to Monyela who on Sunday had said Africans were being “treated badly” at the Polish-Ukraine border.

– ‘Kept outside’ –

Poland’s ambassador to Nigeria Joanna Tarnawska dismissed claims of unfair treatment.

“Everybody receives equal treatment. I can assure you that I have reports that already some Nigerian nationals have crossed the border into Poland,” she told local media.

She said Nigerians could stay for 15 days. Even invalid documents were being accepted to cross the border and Covid-19 restrictions were lifted, she added.

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Some Nigerians who made it across the borders described frightening journeys in the dark to reach traffic-packed frontiers where they were made to wait as officials gave priority to Ukrainian women and children.

Stephanie Agekameh, a medical student now in Poland, said officials at the Medyka border crossing were responding first to Ukrainians.

 

Indian girls wait for transport as refugees from many diffrent countries – from Africa, Middle East and India – mostly students of Ukrainian universities arrive at the Medyka pedestrian border crossing fleeing the conflict in Ukraine, in eastern Poland on February 27, 2022. (Photo by Wojtek RADWANSKI / AFP)

 

“One of the officers came and told us it’s harder for us foreigners because they have to get in touch with our government in different countries,” she said by text message.

Speaking from Korczowa in Poland, Nigerian managerial sciences student Agantem Moshe, said Ukrainian police had pushed Africans out of the way to make way for women and children.

“From the Polish side it was smooth, they were professionals. In Ukraine, they kept us outside in the cold,” he said.

The UN said that more than half a million refugees from Ukraine had so far crossed into neighbouring countries.

Nigeria’s embassy in Bucharest said it had received 130 Nigerians from Ukraine. Another 74 were accounted for in Budapest, where 200 more were expected on Monday, the foreign ministry said.

Another 52 had arrived in Warsaw with another 23 being processed.

“We assure Nigerians that all hands are on deck and arrangements are being put in place to effectively evacuate our citizens,” Nigerian official Gabriel Aduda said in a statement.

– ‘Priority to Ukrainians’ –

Ghana’s government said it would meet with parents of students stuck in Ukraine on Tuesday and sent embassy officials to border points to help.

DR Congo Foreign Minister Christophe Lutundula said on Twitter he would meet with the Polish ambassador to help with the passage across the border of about 200 Congolese, mostly students.

Ivory Coast, which according to state media has 500 nationals in Ukraine, said it was also making arrangements for their evacuation.

Kenya’s foreign affairs ministry said last week around 200 Kenyans were safe and accounted for but that some were stuck at the Polish border because of visa restrictions.

Nigerian accountant Lukmon Busari was relieved his son, a fourth-year medical student, was already out after waiting for a day on the Polish border.

“Initially they didn’t allow them to move as they gave priority to Ukrainians, to women and children. Eventually they allowed them into Poland,” Busari told AFP by telephone.

“According to him, the Polish authorities did a marvellous job. He left on Thursday and got to the border on Thursday night, and he got into Poland on Friday.”

His son was currently resting in Poland before coming home.

“We are seeing how we can clear a flight for him to come back to Nigeria.”

AFP

Coronavirus: Ghana Closes Schools, Bans Gatherings

 

Ghana on Monday closed all schools and universities and suspended public events to stop the spread of coronavirus as a string of African nations imposed tighter restrictions to stem the spread of the global pandemic.

President Nana Akufo-Addo announced in an address to the West African nation that the authorities were shutting schools and universities “until further notice”.

Public gatherings — including conferences, religious services, sports matches and political rallies — have also been suspended for four weeks, he said.

Ghana on Sunday announced it would start barring entry to the country from Tuesday for any non-Ghanaian citizen or resident “who, within the last 14 days, has been to a country that has recorded at least 200 cases”.

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The move came as the authorities reported a rise in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 from two to six, with the new cases all arrivals from abroad.

Numerous nations in sub-Saharan Africa — including Senegal, Kenya and South Africa — have begun imposing entry restrictions or closing schools as the continent scrambles to halt the spread of the virus.

AFP

Stronger Collaboration Will End Terrorism Sponsorship In Africa – Buhari

Muhammadu-Buhari-Terrorism-AfricaPresident Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria on Tuesday said ending insurgency in Africa will require stronger collaboration and commitment from governments, financial institutions and security agencies in tracking the sponsorship of terrorist activities.

He made the statement at a farewell meeting with the High Commissioner of Kenya to Nigeria, Mr Tom Amolo, at the State House in Abuja.

President Buhari said terrorist attacks in Africa bear similar trademarks of intense planning, strong alliances and proper financial sponsorship, which must be thoroughly investigated and reversed.

“Terrorist activities always have financial sponsorships and this can be seen in their acquisition of weapons, their movements and other logistics. Here in Nigeria, we saw that Boko Haram had strong material resources and they had a close link to ISIL,” he said.

The President also noted that African governments must make efforts to dissuade the younger generation from joining the ranks of terrorist groups, who explore youthful minds for suicide bombings.

“We need a whole cultural orientation in order to succeed against terrorism,” he added.

In his remarks, the outgoing High Commissioner said that he enjoyed his stay in Nigeria and still looked forward to returning to the country in the near future.

Nigerian and some countries in West Africa have experienced over six years insurgency by Boko Haram terrorists group.

Counter-terrorism efforts have continued in the oil-rich nation’s northeast to end the activities of the sect, which has employed suicide bombing in their recent attacks.

Navy Concludes Multinational Maritime Exercise In C/River

Nigerian NavyThe Nigerian Navy and their colleagues from three other continents have concluded a one-week multinational maritime exercise.

The multinational exercise tagged ‘Operation Obangame Express’ was brought to a halt in Cross River State, southern Nigeria.

The Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Atiku Abdulkadir, said that the exercise was meant to improve security in the Gulf of Guinea and enhance cooperation between the Navy in African nations and beyond.

“We are developing our capacities and it has come out very clearly during the exercise. Aside from that, it affords us to see how equipment from other countries and Nigeria can operate together and be effective in provision of maritime security,” he said.

The US-Africa Deputy Commander for Regional Operations, Vice Admiral Michael Franken, also stressed the importance of the event.

He urged the Gulf of Guinea nations and the various ministries in each country to share the best practices between themselves, stressing that “the United States is only here as an international partner”.

Since 2009, the yearly multinational exercise seeks to build relationships between navies of most African nations as well as the US, France and other EU participating nations.

32 nations and international organisations from four continents participated in the visit, search, arrest, rescue, seizure, maintenance, security and surveillance exercises including the tactical measures in reclaiming hijacked ships from pirates.

They also re-enacted the series of exercises on the ‘Awunde Code of Conduct’ on non-binding international agreement that lays down the standards which participating countries should follow.

CHAN 2016: Oliseh Impressed With Eagles’ Preparation

EaglesSuper Eagles coach, Sunday Oliseh, is confident his team is on track ahead of the African Nations Championship in Rwanda.

The team, in their final friendly, beat Cote d ‘ Ivoire 1-0 to remain unbeaten in all their warm-up matches.

Ifeanyi Matthew got the only goal of the game just before half time as both sides wrapped up their preparations ahead of the CHAN billed to kick off on January 16 in Rwanda.

Cote d’ivoire coach, Michel Duissier, played down the defeat, insisting his team would improve at the championship.

Nigeria’s first game would be against Niger on January 18 at the Stade Regional Nyamirambo, Kigali in Rwanda.

The Super Eagles expected to arrive Rwanda on January 15 three days to their opening game.

 

 

Nigeria Will Continue To Support Africa’s Political Stability And Peace – Buhari

Buhari-NigeriaThe Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, has said that all efforts to achieve political stability and maintain peace in Africa would continue to receive his nation’s full support.

President Buhari gave this assurance on Wednesday in Abuja, while in a meeting with Special Envoys of President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi.

President Buhari also said that under his leadership, Nigeria would remain at the forefront of efforts to achieve enduring peace, security and progress in all African nations.

According to a statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President said “whatever happens elsewhere in Africa also affects Nigeria directly or indirectly”.

The President further declared that African leaders must do their best to achieve greater peace, political stability and security within their countries, in order to give more attention to the urgent task of improving the living conditions of their people.

Thanking the envoys, Major General Evariste Ndayishimiye and Ambassador Dieudonne Kwizera, for briefing him on recent political developments in Burundi, President Buhari expressed the hope that all stakeholders in the country would resolve their differences peacefully and learn to work together for the development of Burundi.

He also welcomed ongoing efforts by President Nkurunziza towards peace and national reconciliation in Burundi.

FIFA Threatens To Suspend Nigeria Over NFF Elections

FIFA President Joseph Blatter addresses news conference in HavanaNigeria face yet another ban and the possibility of expulsion from the African Nations Cup if they continue to uphold the results of disputed elections last week, FIFA warned on Wednesday.

Nigeria have until Monday to restore to power Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president Aminu Maigari, deposed in an election last week while he was detained by police in a second attempt to oust him from office since the World Cup.

FIFA said in a statement it had sent a letter to the NFF confirming that Nigeria will be suspended “should there still be persons claiming to have been elected to NFF positions on 26 August 2014 and occupying their offices on Monday, 8 September 2014 at 07.00.

NFF elections last week saw Chris Giwa take over as president but his election has been widely disputed within Nigerian football and rejected by FIFA.

Maigari was arrested at the same time as the poll, in an unsubtle attempt to keep him from the vote, and held by police but not questioned and later released.

The involvement of security forces led Nigerian media to speculate the giant west African country’s government were seeking to unseat Maigari but wary of FIFA’s policy of no government interference in the running of its member associations.

Maigari had also been held for a brief period after arriving home from Brazil in July following Nigeria’s elimination in the World Cup last 16 when a first bid to sweep him from power was made by rivals.

A court order was obtained by a rival faction ordering an immediate election in July but world football’s governing body rejected this too, suspending Nigeria for seven days before the status quo was restored.

FIFA’s latest threat means Nigeria could be stopped from playing their scheduled Nations Cup qualifier in South Africa next Wednesday which would effectively see them out of the competition and unable to defend the title they won in 2013.

They can however go ahead with the opening Group A qualifier against Congo in Calabar on Saturday.

“Should the new deadline not be respected, the NFF will be automatically suspended until the board claiming to be elected vacates the premises of the NFF and the NFF General Secretary is able to perform his work without interference,” FIFA said.

“The NFF Executive Committee as it was composed on 25 August 2014, meaning under the presidency of Aminu Maigari, should then convene as soon as possible a first extraordinary general assembly to elect the members of the electoral committee and a second extraordinary general assembly in the shortest time possible allowed by law in order to proceed with the elections of new NFF office-bearers.”

African Nations Increase Farm Spending, Winning Poverty Battle

President Barack Obama hosts the leaders of four African nations this week, all of which are cited in a new report for effectively increasing spending on agriculture to combat extreme poverty and hunger.

The report by the ONE Campaign, an anti-poverty group co-founded by Irish rockers Bono and Bob Geldof, said Senegal, Malawi, Cape Verde and Sierra Leone either met or were close to meeting targets for increased budget spending on agriculture.

All of the countries, except Cape Verde where there is little data, are also on track or close to meeting a U.N. target of halving extreme poverty by 2015, the report said.

The African leaders will visit the White House on Thursday to showcase their fledgling democracies, but also their potential in a region where strong economic policies are attracting increased investment.

A recent World Bank report said Africa’s agricultural sector could become a $1 trillion industry by 2030 if farmers modernized their practices and had better access to financing, new technology, irrigation and fertilizers.

“Despite record improvements by select African countries, Africa overall is still far from realizing its agricultural potential,” said the ONE Campaign report, which assessed progress by 19 African countries and donors that send them aid.

“For African governments, donors and the private sector alike, 2013 is the year to deliver on these building blocks that impact farming and expand economic opportunities for farmers,” the report said.

This year marks a decade since African governments committed to allocate 10 percent of national spending to boost agricultural production, reversing decades of under investment in the sector. The so-called Maputo commitments expire this year, giving world leaders the opportunity to lay out a bold new plan with targets, the report said.

According to ONE’s analysis, at least four of the 19 African countries analyzed – Ethiopia, Cape Verde, Malawi and Niger – met or exceeded the target of 10 percent total expenditure on agriculture. Senegal and Sierra Leone are close to the target.

Meanwhile, the laggards are Nigeria, Liberia and Ghana, which spend less than 2 percent of their budgets on agriculture.

The report also called on industrialized nations – the United States, France, Britain, Canada, Japan, Germany and Russia – to make good on their various funding promises to help African nations increase agricultural production.

The G8, which meets in June this year, has repeatedly promised to support Africa-led initiatives, yet G8 agriculture investment plans have only secured about half of their required financing, and many donors contribute only a small fraction of their agriculture aid to poor countries, the report said.

The report shows that European Union institutions, Canada and Germany increased their share of foreign assistance to agriculture, while Britain, Japan and France cut theirs.