Fact-checkNews

No, Nigeria Not Sending Troops To Fight For Ukraine

A news article that circulated on social media has claimed that President Buhari promised to send 10,000 soldiers to support Ukraine against Russia.

A report published by an online medium has claimed that the Nigerian government has decided to send 10,000 troops to Ukraine to support the country against Russian invasion. 

The news, which has gone viral especially on WhatsApp, added that Nigeria responded to the call made by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to support his country in the ongoing war. 

Full text of the claim 

“The Federal Government of Nigeria has decided to send Nigerian troops to Ukraine in support to fight Russia.

“This is coming after the Ukrainian president, Zelensky, alleged Friday that his country had been left on its own to fight Russia after the Kremlin launched a large-scale invasion that killed 130 Ukrainians on the first day.

“Who is ready to fight alongside us? I don’t see anyone. Who is ready to give Ukraine a guarantee of NATO membership? Everyone is afraid,” he added.

“But the Nigerian government has been the first country to respond, promising to send over ten thousand Nigerian troops to Ukraine to fight.

“According to President Buhari, it is his duty to support any country that is in a serious crisis the same way they would support Nigeria.”

Verification 

There is no evidence that the Nigerian government intends to send troops to Ukraine to fight Russia. No official pronouncements or hints have been made along that line. Nonetheless, the country has promised to evacuate its citizens from Ukraine. 

The Nigerian government has also avoided actively intervening in the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, though it has “received with surprise reports of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.” 

Geoffrey Onyeama, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, quoted the Russian envoy in Nigeria, Alexei Shebarshin, as saying that Russia is friendly to Nigeria.

“He said they consider Nigeria a friendly country,” Onyeama said. 

He added that “the Russian envoy also said that they would do nothing to harm Nigerians and assured me that their action is targeted at military installations and that they are not about to start attacking civilian areas and so forth.”

In a statement released last Thursday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs assured Nigerians in Ukraine and their families in Nigeria of their safe return to the country. 

A statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs 

“The ministry of foreign affairs has been reassured by the Nigerian Embassy in Ukraine of the safety of Nigerians in that country and measures being undertaken to keep them safe and facilitate the evacuation of those who wish to leave,” Francisca Omayuli, the ministry’s spokesperson, said.

“The federal government wishes to assure the families with loved ones in Ukraine that as soon as the airports in the country are opened. It would assist in facilitating the evacuation of Nigerians who are willing to leave.”

However, neither the statement nor any subsequent ones issued by the ministry mentioned any military assistance to Ukraine. The online medium failed to identify the source of their claim, despite the fact that no prominent Nigerian media outlet had published the story. 

Buhari asked to sanction Russia 

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), a nonprofit operating in Nigeria, has asked Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and other African leaders to sanction Russia on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. 

In a tweet, the Non-governmental Organisation SERAP asked Buhari to convene a meeting with the African Union and ECOWAS to sanction Russia for its military operation in Ukraine.

“We urge President Buhari to provide the leadership by immediately calling for extra-ordinary sessions of the African Union and ECOWAS to discuss sanctions against Russia over the invasion of #Ukraine, and to call for protection of Africans caught up in the conflict,” the tweet read.

The African Union, a regional organisation, on the other hand, has called on Russia to respect international laws, the territorial integrity, and national sovereignty of Ukraine.

In a statement by the Union chairperson and President of Senegal, Moussa Faki Mahamat, he expressed “their extreme concern at the very serious and dangerous situation created in Ukraine.” 

In a different statement, the AU has also expressed concern over the ill treatment of Africans leaving Ukraine for neighbouring countries as refugees. 

“Reports that Africans are singled out for unacceptable dissimilar treatment would be shockingly racist and in breach international law. 

“In this regard, The Chairpersons urge all countries to respect international law and show the same empathy and support to all people fleeing war notwithstanding their racial identity,” the statement said on Monday, Feb. 28, 2022.

Conclusion/Verdict 

There is no evidence that the Nigerian government has said it will support Ukraine by sending troops to fight Russians.

Nigeria, however, expressed surprise at the reports of the invasion, but made no promises beyond evacuating its citizens from the country.


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Aliyu Dahiru

Aliyu Dahiru Aliyu is a senior reporter, researcher and a fact-checker. He heads the extremism and radicalisation desk. Tweets: @Aliyussufiy

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