A Nigerian pastor based in Kyiv, Sunday Adelaja, said he and his family fled the war-wracked capital city of Ukraine, to avoid being eliminated by Russian forces who have a list of influential people as targets.
The founder of the Embassy of the Blessed Kingdom of God for all Nations made the revelation in a video post on his verified Facebook page on Saturday.
He said, â€œThis is the first time I and my family have been able to have a place to put our heads in the last 48 hours. Weâ€™ve been travelling, sometimes we walk, sometimes we run, sometimes we are in a car, sometimes we are in a long queue of people who want to escape from Ukraine.
â€œI wanted to stay back and send my wife to get out of the country but I got an information two days ago that in a few days, the Russians will enter Kyiv.
â€œFrom the American intelligence, we got to know that they have a list of people for elimination. These are not ordinary but influential people who have public opinion and that I am on the list.
â€œI know that I am on the list because I was already a persona non grata in Russia since 2005. I have been a personal enemy of Vladimir Putin for close to 20 years now. He banned me from going to Russia, so I know I would be on the list.â€
The PUNCH had reported that at least 5,600 Nigerians including students reside in the war-torn country but the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, on Friday said there can be no evacuation of Nigerians in Ukraine until the airports in the European country, which is under attack by Russia, are reopened.
Meanwhile, more than 150,000 Ukrainians have fled the country since the start of Russiaâ€™s invasion, said the United Nationâ€™s High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi.
After months of military buildup and brinkmanship on its border with Ukraine, Russia invaded its ex-Soviet neighbour with a multi-pronged attack on Thursday, threatening to destabilise Europe and draw in the United States.
Several areas across Ukraine came under attack on Thursday morning after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the start of a â€œspecial military operationâ€ and warned of bloodshed unless Ukrainian forces lay down their arms.
The coordinated assault came days after Putin announced that Moscow would officially recognise the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk Peopleâ€™s Republics in eastern Ukraineâ€™s Donbas region, ordering the deployment of Russian troops there.
Russiaâ€™s invasion of Ukraine has, however, been seen by the West as a protest for Kyiv not to join the European Union and to quit any alliance with The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.
Putinâ€™s aggression in the last 48 hours has drawn the ire of the EU, the United States, the United Kingdom, amongst a host of others that have slammed strict economic sanctions against Moscow and sent military supports and humanitarian aids to the Ukrainians.
As the war enters the third day, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ruled out any act of cowardice or surrender, insisting that Ukraine will push back Russia till the last minute even as Ukraineâ€™s Health Minister, Viktor Lyashko, on Saturday announced that 198 civilians including children have been killed, and 1,115 wounded by Russian forces from land, sea and water.