Nigeria’s relations with Russia and Ukraine intact, despite war – FG

Mr. Zubairu Dada, Nigerian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs

The federal government says Nigeria’s relations with Russia and Ukraine remain intact, despite the war between the two EU countries.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Alhaji Zubairu Dada said so in Abuja on Thursday while answering questions from journalists during the weekly ministerial briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team.

He stressed that the ongoing war between the two countries has in no way affected Nigeria’s diplomatic relations with either.

Corroborating this assertion, Nigeria’s permanent representative to the UN, Professor Tijjani Bande, said that Nigeria never considered severing diplomatic ties with Russia for invading Ukraine.

“Nigeria has not severed ties with Russia and there are several ties between Nigeria and Russia on many issues. Education is one. Nigeria is not at war with Russia.

“Russia remains a member of the UN Security Council and a member of the UN; it is an important player in world politics.

“Who knows, next week maybe there will be no problem between Russia and Ukraine and how will you start your relationship with Russia everywhere?

“It’s a balancing act. It’s not like we’ve reached a point where Russia is so evil that Nigeria shouldn’t even identify with her; should not eat food produced in Russia; or we cannot take gas because it is produced in Russia.

“Balance is fundamental in diplomacy and Nigeria has been very clear in its view that Russia’s attack on Ukraine was unacceptable.”

On the issue of Itunu Babalola, a Nigerian wrongfully imprisoned in Cote d’Ivoire who died in prison, the minister said the federal government would not rest on its oars “until justice is done in this matter “.

“I want us to understand that we are talking about another sovereign nation. The lady was taken to a regular court and the judge found her guilty of an offense and imprisoned her.

“The only recourse we had as a responsible nation was to go to the Court of Appeal and that is what we did.

“We appealed against this judgment and it was in this process that this lady fell ill and died in custody.

“We have insisted on an autopsy being carried out on the corpse and we also raise issues with the relevant authorities when we are not fully satisfied with ensuring justice is served.

“Even in death, we don’t drop the case. We cannot do ourselves justice in this country.

“Whether they imprisoned her rightly or wrongly, it was their law that was used, which we must respect.

“Again, diplomacy is the only way forward and we are sparing no effort and we have the tacit support of the House of Representatives Diaspora Committee,” he said.

Dada also commented on the mistreatment of Nigerian traders in Ghana as well as the occasional xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.

He said steps were being taken by the federal government to resolve the issues permanently.

“Starting with Ghana, I am aware that the Ministry of Trade and Investment in conjunction with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have gone to great lengths in this regard.

“We have visited Ghana no less than three times; they have also been here the same number of times and a lot of progress has been made.

“In the case of South Africa, there is no doubt that South Africa has enormous respect for Nigeria.

“The action of very few South Africans is not and should not be taken as a reflection of the position of the South African government and its people.

“I guess what is happening there is that there are frustrated South Africans who believe that Nigerians are literally outperforming them in their own country; Nigerian businesses are moving there very quickly.

“To address the issue, the two countries have put in place an early warning mechanism to monitor some of these crises so that we don’t let them happen before we manage them.

“All security agencies in South Africa are on red alert to ensure that what happened in the past does not happen again and we are doing the same to that end,” Dada said. (NA)