Xenophobia: FG recalls ambassador to South Africa; Nigerians to be evacuated

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As outrage over violence against foreign nationals in South Africa spreads, Nigerian High Commissioner to  South Africa, Mr Kabiru Bala, would return home for consultation any moment from now.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, who spoke to journalists after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, said the Federal Government has drawn ‘a red line’ with South Africa, insisting that Nigeria would not ‘cave in’ on the matter.

“We want to assure all Nigerians that this government is determined, that red line has been drawn and that we will not cave in on this occasion.

“South African government has to assume its responsibilities and protect Nigerians in South Africa and we have to hold them to account and they have to do that as well as pay full compensation,’’ he added.

He confirmed the recall of the  Nigerian High Commissioner. He would return with the special envoy, at the end of his assignment.

Asked to disclose the identity of the envoy and measures being taken to protect Nigerians, Onyeama said: “The identity of the special envoy will be revealed in due course. There are certain reasons why we don’t want to do so immediately.”

On why the Nigerian high commissioner has been recalled when the envoy was on his way to South Africa, he said: “It is one of the options we are considering. He will need to come back, but we feel he should come back after the envoy has gone there, so that Mr. President will have the benefits of the full and comprehensive brief from all the individuals who are in the position to have seen things at a close range.”

The minister noted that Osinbajo was delegated by President Buhari to attend the summit, but the President later asked him to step down, following the xenophobic attacks.

“The Vice President, as you know, was scheduled to go to South Africa tomorrow (Thursday) to attend the World Economic Forum, clearly, with this climate, he and Mr. President have agreed that he should not go to the World Economic Forum in Cape Town, and we are looking at other measures to take,” he said.

The Federal Government has also advised Nigerians against travelling to volatile, high-risk areas of some countries until the current xenophobic attacks are brought under control.

Air Peace to evacuate Nigerians 

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Air Peace Limited, Mr Allen Onyema, has volunteered the airline to evacuate Nigerians from South Africa.

Spokesperson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Ferdinand Nwonye, disclosed the development yesterday in a statement issued in Abuja.

“Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to inform the general public that following the recent unfortunate xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals, including Nigerians in South Africa, Proprietor of Air Peace Airlines, Mr Allen Onyema, has volunteered to send an aircraft from Friday 6th September 2019 to evacuate Nigerians who wish to return to Nigeria free of charge,” he said.

The government further advised the public to inform their relatives in South Africa to take advantage of the laudable gesture.

“Interested Nigerians are therefore advised to liaise with the High Commission of Nigeria in Pretoria and the Consulate General of Nigeria in Johannesburg for further necessary arrangement.”