Xenophobic attacks in SA: Buhari sends special envoy to South Africa

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President Muhammadu Buhari has dispatched a special envoy to convey his concerns to President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa following the unending wave of  attacks on Nigerian.

The president’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, said in a statement in Abuja yesterday that the envoy would arrive in Pretoria by tomorrow.

Though miffed by the attacks, the Federal Government has said Nigeria would not retaliate.

Speaking to State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Minister of foreign affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said: “We don’t believe that two wrongs can make a right … revenge on those kind of attacks is not what we are looking forward to. The 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.”

On what would be the agenda for the special envoy to South Africa, Onyeama said: “It is just two key issues: the compensation payment and what security mechanism would be put in place to make sure that these kinds of attacks do not recur; we need to have a viable mechanism in place. Like I have said, one of the possibilities that we are proposing is to have some Nigerian security operatives working with the South African Police and attached to the Nigerian High Commission in South Africa.”

Meanwhile, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has described the attacks as reckless and contrary to the ideals of South African leaders.

Osinbajo, who spoke to reporters on his way back from Kano, said: “Let me say first that these recent attacks are condemnable. It is very sad and very unfortunate that the lives and livelihoods of Nigerians living in South Africa are once again being destroyed with such wantonness and with such carelessness and recklessness.

“It is unfortunate because Nigeria and Nigerians invested a great deal in the 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…This is absolutely unacceptable and unconscionable.”

Following the president’s directive, Onyeama had earlier met with the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Bobby Moroe.

Asked what measures the Federal Government would take, if the attacks continued, Onyeama said: “The immediate concern is to have in place a robust mechanism that will pre-empt these attacks and, if they break out, that will react very quickly to put them down and that will also be providing adequate oversight over the security of vulnerable groups such as Nigerians in South Africa.

“So, this is why we feel that, as a first step, we send, if the South African government agrees with us, some Nigeria Police, embedded, attached to the Nigerian High Commission in Pretoria and, if again the South African government agrees, that we might even have some Nigeria Police embedded within the South African Police Force to deal with matters concerning Nigerians in South Africa.”

Moroe also condemned the attacks.

“It is quite unfortunate that we found ourselves in a situation that we found ourselves in now. The government has issued a statement yesterday, condemning the acts of violence and acts of criminality.

“For us, these are acts that continue to demonstrate that there are criminals within the society that seek to destabilise the country, there are criminals who seek to create an impression that South Africans do not subscribe to the principle of Ubuntu,” Moroe said.

Senate president reacts

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan urged the President Buhari-led executive to take steps to end all kinds of hostilities against Nigerians in South Africa.

In a statement he personally signed, Lawan criticised the South African government for not doing enough to protect Nigerians, despite repeated promises.

He said the Senate vis-a-vis the National Assembly, would keep a close watch as events continued to unfold.  “The Senate is closely observing the situation and urges the Federal Government of Nigeria to accept nothing but the immediate cessation of hostility to Nigerians living in South Africa.

“The enormous contributions of Nigeria to this historic struggle is underscored by its recognition as a frontline state in the prolonged confrontation against the powerful racist regime that had held generations of Southern Africans in bondage and subhuman conditions.

“This recognition is in spite of the fact that Nigeria does not share geographical borders with the subregion and was far removed from the direct consequences of apartheid.

“The liberation of South Africa was rightly celebrated across the continent and the Black world as the final emancipation of Africans from colonialism and apartheid.

“It is therefore, an unacceptable irony that a section of South Africans would so soon, after now, choose other Africans in their country as the targets of mindless violent attacks over frustrations for which the innocent victims have no control.

Reps may reconvene over xenophobic attacks 

There are indications that the House of Representatives may cut short its recess  to discuss the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians living in South Africa.

Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila gave the hint in a tweet from his verified twitter handle @femigbaja,yesterday.

The House embarked on a two-month recess in July is scheduled to resume plenary on September 17.

However,  Gbajabiamila, who is currently attending the ongoing 50th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Tanzania,  said he would  cut short his trip to enable the leadership of the House consider holding an emergency session over the xenophobic attacks in  South Africa.

Sen. Kalu calls for retaliation 

The Chief Whip of the Ninth Senate , Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu  also condemned the attacks and called on all Nigerians to stand firm and retaliate rather than waiting on the South Africans to fish out the perpetrators.

Kalu , a two-time governor of Abia State, in a statement issued by his Media Team, yesterday, said the gruesome killings, looting, arson of properties belonging to Nigerians and attack of Nigerian Embassy in South Africa is ill-conceived, disheartening and wicked.

“How can any sensible person attack and burn a fellow human being just because he or she has a feeling to do so? Those mindless criminals who attacked and prevented law abiding Nigerians to freely conduct their businesses must be made to pay for their crimes. Arresting them is not enough,” he said.

Sen. Kalu questioned the essence of the renewed attack on Nigerians adding that South Africans in Nigeria have always lived and conducted their businesses in peace.

“If the South African government do not do more to protect the lives of Nigerians, there should be no reason to allow them operate freely in Nigeria. All their enterprises deserve to be closed down including MTN, DSTV,Shoprite among others.  In the spirit of brotherhood, we have supported them. Our doors  have always been opened but it’s time we retaliate by shutting our doors.”

The Senate Chief Whip while commending President Buhari for dispatching a special envoy to the South African government urged the Federal Government to hasten their intervention and institute stiffer measures against South Africa over the endless xenophobic attacks.

He added that the Federal Government  should no long be patient in invoking  the United Nations (UN) law on hate and all forms of xenophobic attacks against South Africa to make its government take the issue seriously.

Attacks unwarranted –APC

The All Progressives Congress (APC), in a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Malam Lanre Issa-Onilu in Abuja, assured Nigerians that the President Buhari administration will continue to take decisive measures.

“The safety of Nigerians –home and abroad — is non-negotiable to the APC administration.’

“As a party, we are deeply saddened by these unwarranted attacks. Nigeria deserves better from South Africa. It is too early for South Africans to forget their country’s history.

“Many of the key players in the struggle against apartheid are still alive and active in the country’s national affairs. We therefore cannot understand why there seems to be a conspiracy of silence on their part.

“The barbaric attack on citizens of other countries points to a failure of leadership. South African leaders cannot exonerate themselves from this cowardly act,’’ Issa-Onilu said.

Enough of diplomatic ‘good guy’–PDP 

Senators elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), have urged the Federal government to go beyond diplomatic rhetoric and compel the government of South Africa to immediately stop the attack and killing of Nigerians.

A statement released in Abuja on behalf of the caucus, Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe, described as barbaric the unwarranted attack and killing of innocent Nigerians and declared that the seeming cold approach of the South African government to the vexed issue, casts it as being complicit.

“The Presidency must stamp their feet on the ground and call that government to order.

“We have an emergency, this is not the time to play ‘good guy’ international diplomacy. The gory picture of our people being slaughtered on the streets of South Africa in recent times lowers our collective spirit, even as it tends to diminish Nigeria’s prestige in the comity of nations. It is inconceivable that South Africans will go this deplorable route against Nigerians, who committed huge human and material resources during their very dark hours in the ignoble days of apartheid. It is very unfortunate, inhumane and runs against the grains of our African brotherhood,” he said.

Ekweremadu, Chinda speak 

Former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, has condemned the incessant xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other African nationals in South Africa, describing it as “un-African, barbaric, and unparalleled acts of ingratitude.”

The lawmaker representing Obio/Akpor federal constituency in Rivers State,  Ogundu Chinda called on the National Assembly to take a clear position on the matter and send a stern warning to the government of South Africa.

Nigerian celebrities condemn attacks 

Popular Nigerian celebrities, including Toke Makinwa, Funke Akindele and Mo Abudu have condemned the incessant attacks on Nigerians and other Africans in South Africa.

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