A Nigerian medical student in Ukraine, Ajayi Ilerioluwa Adeyemi, has narrated how he spent 24 hours underground to escape Russian onslaught.
Adeyemi, who arrived in Nigeria on Friday aboard an Air Peace flight alongside 182 others, told newsmen that he was terrified by the loud sounds of bombs and gunshots.
He said, at some point, he lost the hope of seeing his parents and family because of the incessant bombing and gunshots that took over the atmosphere in the city.
Adeyemi said, “I hid underground for 24 hours to seek shelter. I was deeply terrified and did not know whether I would make it out alive. My fear heightened as the bombing and gunshots intensified. It is a miracle I survived.”
The Federal Government had evacuated 779 Nigerians, mostly students, who fled Ukraine to neighbouring countries amid Russian invasion.
They arrived at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, in three batches onboard Max Air and Air Peace flights.
While the first batch of 415 passengers arrived aboard Max Air from Romania, the second batch of 183 passengers arrived from Poland aboard Air Peace and another 181 from Hungary aboard Air Peace.
It was gathered that a batch of 380 returnees was expected to have arrived from Hungary today (Sunday) aboard Air Peace.
On her part, a first year medical student in Ukraine, Maryam Musa Adamu, said when the attack first started, Ukrainians convinced them to be calm as there had always been several threats by the Russian government but not carried out.
“There was calm for the first week until 24th of February when the Russian soldiers invaded Kyiv and they kept bombing back to back and shooting as well. There was panic and most people had to run underground to take cover as no one knew the next house the bomb would hit,” she said.
Also, a fourth year medical student, Humeira Awesu, said she was one of those who were lucky to get kind treatment from Ukrainians as she was given free train tickets to Poland
A parent, Mr Phillip Ogunshakin, was at the airport to pick up his two daughters who had been in Ukraine for more than 10 years.
“The news was painful but we thank God for everything. In every position you are in, you have to thank God. Since the day this war started, we have been praying. I am also expecting two of my daughters with my grandson. They schooled there. They had their master’s degrees and they are working. One is a communication officer. The second one is working in the American Embassy,” he said.
The Director, Consular and Legal Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Bolaji Akinremi, said they had difficulties tracing some of the returnees in Poland.
He said at first, the rescue mission wanted to go to Poland with two aircraft which were already set in Lagos to commence the journey but a call came in that only one aircraft should come.
Akinremi narrated that by the time they got to Poland, they thought the returnees would be at the airport waiting for them, but they did not meet anyone at the airport. He said his team from Nigeria had to go to the city to look for the refugees which took a lot of time.