Russian Police Arrest Sixteen Protesting Nigerian Students
Sixteen Nigerians students were on Tuesday arrested by the Russian police for damaging a conference hall in the Nigerian embassy.
The suspects were said to have been arrested at the embassy at the request of its Nigerian staff.
Russian news agency Ria Novosti reports that the students went on the rampage after discussions over unpaid grants with embassy officials failed. All 16 students were said to have enrolled at Colleges of Higher Education in Russia.
The students were said to have sought aid for their financial problems at the embassy on Malaya Nikitskaya street in Moscow.
Due to the inability of the embassy to adequately address their problems, the students reportedly flew into a rage and went on the rampage, smashing furniture in the reception.
The Moscow police were said to have received a fax message asking for assistance in containing the enraged students who had refused to leave the embassy and were threatening further destruction.
The students who were arrested on charges of hooliganism are expected to have their administrative cases sent to a Moscow court for processing.
Last year, Russian website lenta.runews, reported that some Nigerian students had beaten up an embassy representative over non-payment of grants.
Meanwhile, Chairperson, House of Representative Committee on Foreign Affairs, Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, condemned the invasion by the students.
Elendu-Ukeje told the News Agency of Nigeria in a telephone interview that the protesting students went too far in violating the embassy.
“Nigeria takes any attack on its embassy as a very serious issue, whether by its citizens or not. Invasion of any embassy is an anathema.
“Irrespective of what it is, and that is my stand on this issue, vandalism of Nigeria’s property anywhere in the world does not answer the question,’’ she said.
The legislator, however, acknowledged that she received a petition two months back from a group of students in Moscow.
“The petition concerned the failure of the Federal Ministry of Education to pay their grants,’’ she said.
Elendu-Ukeje said she understood their plight, especially as the petitioners complained of backlog of unpaid school fees.
“I am aware that they have actually written a petition. I had cause to engage in a discussion the young man who brought the petition.
“I made him realize that the embassy was not part of the deal between them and the Ministry of Education.
“Even though the Nigerian embassy is Nigeria’s representative in Moscow, the Ministry of Education is the one paying their grant.
“However, I promised to engage the Ministry of Education to ensure that their grant was paid to them as at when due,’’ she added.