Widespread anger, condemnation over xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa

  • Osinbajo says attacks reckless, Ekweremadu seeks diplomatic strain
  • One killed in Lagos as mobs protest, attack Ibadan, Uyo offices
  • Buhari dispatches envoy over continuous killings, looting spree

Anger on Tuesday greeted xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa with dignitaries and organisations including President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate and House of Representatives, expressing their displeasure over the continued killing.

Mr Buhari specifically sent a special envoy to President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, to express his deep concern about the “reported attacks on Nigerian citizens and property in South Africa since August 29, 2019.”

Also, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, in compliance with Buhari’s directive, summoned South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, to express Nigeria’s displeasure over the continued killing of Nigerians in South Africa.

In a statement in Abuja, the Presidency said the special envoy Buhari sent to Ramaphosa was expected to land in Pretoria by Thursday.

The statement, which was signed by the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, did not give the name of the envoy.

It added that Buhari was deeply concerned about the “reported attacks on Nigerian citizens and property in South Africa since August 29, 2019.”

Nigerians and other foreigners in South Africa have been the target of attacks since last week when a taxi driver was killed by an alleged drug peddler from Tanzania in Pretoria.

Foreign-owned businesses have been looted and burnt in different parts of the country.

As of Monday, three persons had been killed while one person was in hospital being treated for smoke inhalation.

Attacks on Nigerians reckless, says Osinbajo

On his part, Mr Osinbajo described the attacks as “reckless,” noting that the latest happenings “run against ideals South African leaders fought for.”

Osinbajo, while chatting with reporters in Kano on Tuesday, said, “It is unfortunate because Nigeria and Nigerians invested a great deal in the destruction and pulling down of apartheid. Besides, these acts of bigotry are entirely contrary to the very ideals that all the great South African leaders, including the present President fought for, and for which many gave their lives.”

Meanwhile, Onyeama has ruled out reprisals as a solution to the problem.

Rather, he said Federal Government would continue to pursue the option of engaging South African authorities to promote peace.

The minister, who spoke with State House Correspondents soon after he met with Buhari, explained that Nigeria did not believe that two wrongs would make a right.

Onyeama said, “South African Government has assured us that they are doing everything possible to address the situation; that they are equally exasperated by the whole event.

“We believe that with that goodwill we may be able to work together to put in place these mechanisms that would make a difference.”

Onyeama also stated that another option being considered was to send Nigerian security agents to South Africa “to work closely with South African Police Force.”

High Commission compiles victims’ list

However, High Commission of Nigeria in Pretoria has begun compiling a list of victims of the xenophobic attacks.

The mission directed Nigerians affected by the violence to come forward.

Nigerian High Commissioner to South Africa, Mr Kabiru Bala, in a statement in Pretoria on Tuesday, said, “The High Commission and the Consulate in Pretoria and Johannesburg are compiling the list of all the Nigerian victims of the current anarchy for engagement with the South African government and other stakeholders for succour.

“In this regard, all Nigerian victims of the current attacks are requested to come forward to report their situation to the High Commission and the Consulate.”

The envoy said the two missions would continue to be home to all Nigerians “in this trying times and in the future,” noting that the mission had remained open since the outbreak of violence.

FG summons SA High Commissioner

Onyeama has summoned the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Bobby Moroe, over the attacks.

A senior MFA official, Mr Kimiebi Ebenfa, confirmed this in a WhatsApp message.

It read, “I am directed to inform you that Minister of Foreign Affairs has summoned High Commissioner of South Africa for a meeting.”

Rep asks FG to recall envoy, House to suspend recess over attacks

Meanwhile, House of Representatives is planning to suspend members’ ongoing two-month annual recess to reconvene to address the xenophobic attacks.

Speaker, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, announced on his verified Twitter handle, @femigbaja, on Tuesday, saying the lower chamber of the National Assembly might reconvene for a one-day session to address the attacks.

The House was to resume plenary on September 14.

The Speaker tweeted, “(I) Will be cutting short my trip to Tanzania for the 50th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference @CPA Secretariat and will be leaving today, for the leadership of @HouseNGR to consider cutting short the recess and reconvening for one day to address the killing of Nigerians in SA.”

It was learnt that several members of the House mounted pressure on the leadership to take a decisive action on the attacks.

However, Vice Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology, Mr Musiliudeen Akinremi, on Tuesday urged Federal Government to recall Nigeria’s envoy to South Africa and close down the SA’s embassy in the country.

Akinremi said, “Enough is enough and an injustice to one is an injustice to all. These actions taken against Nigerians by South Africans are so unjustified and are an international crime against humanity.”

South Africa, AU need to act fast- Atiku

However, candidate of Peoples Democratic Party in the last presidential election, Mr Atiku Abubakar, on Tuesday called on South African government and African Union to urgently address ongoing xenophobic attacks on foreigners in the country.

He made this call via his verified Twitter handle in a tweet, he personally signed.

He said, “Reported attacks against Nigerians in South Africa are unacceptable and stand condemned. Urgent steps need to be taken with SA authorities and African Union to bring an end to this ill wind that can only end up destroying the fabric of our African brotherhood. -AA”

Senate condemns attacks

Also, Senate President, Mr Ahmad Lawan, on Tuesday condemned the attacks on Nigerians.

Lawan in a statement said,  “Nigeria has had enough of its citizens being targets of these attacks and will no longer tolerate hate crimes in any form against its citizens who are doing legitimate business in that country.

“Xenophobic violence is most condemnable anywhere; more so in South Africa, a country whose citizens benefited from the support and solidarity of Africans and freedom lovers across the world in their historic struggle against apartheid.”

Suspend diplomatic ties with S’Africa, Ekweremadu tells FG

But immediate past deputy president of the Senate, Mr Ike Ekweremadu, called on Federal Government to consider suspension of diplomatic ties with South Africa until things were put right.

In a statement on Tuesday, he called on AU to summon an emergency meeting with a view to sanctioning South Africa.

He stated, “I find the incessant xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other African nationals in South Africa very un-African, barbaric, and unparalleled acts of ingratitude.

“It is quite disturbing that the Government of South Africa has not taken decisive steps to end these attacks, which have led to wanton loss of lives and property of fellow Africans, especially Nigerians.

“The attacks defy and desecrate everything African broterhood stands for, especially for a country that gained freedom with the support, sweat, and sacrifice of fellow African nations among which Nigeria clearly stands out.

“The attacks have reached scary and desperate degrees and call for desperate actions on the part of Nigeria, other African nations, and African Union.

“It will therefore not be out of place for Federal Government to suspend diplomatic relations with SA until full assurance of safety of Nigerians and their properties in South African is secured, adequate compensation paid for the damages, and the perpetrators also brought to book.

“…The AU should therefore summon an emergency session to sanction South Africa; and a suspend from the Union for unprovoked acts of hostilities against fellow Africans whose countries fought for the freedom they enjoy today will not be out of place.”

‘Fix Nigeria, make migration unattractive’

However, a  Lagos-based lawyer, Mr Jiti Ogunye, has said the Federal Government should make emigration unattractive by fixing the country as a means of tackling xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

Ogunye, in an interview with one of our correspondents, said, “My belief is that if we fix our country, it will make our country a veritable sanctuary for our people so that if they are being harassed elsewhere, they can come home and then earn a decent living.”

MTN condemns xenophobic attacks

Meanwhile, MTN Nigeria has condemned attacks on foreigners in South Africa.

In a statement on Tuesday, Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria, Ferdi Moolman, said the company was against all forms of violence and xenophobia against people.

“MTN Nigeria strongly condemns hate, prejudice and xenophobia and reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of all violence. We seek to connect people, bring people together and provide a platform for everyone’s voice to be heard. We are against all forms of bigotry and discrimination; they should have no place in society,” he added.

 

Punch

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