The Federal Government has warned South African government on its xenophobic attacks saying Nigeria will no longer tolerate such violence against its citizens.
The Senior Special Adviser on Foreign Affairs to the President, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said it was ‘insensitive’ and ‘unguarded’ for South African Home Affairs Minister, Mr. Malusi Gigaba, to suggest diplomacy as the solution to the attacks on Nigerians in his country.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa said Mr. Gigaba’s statement that “such issues were better discussed at diplomatic levels” ignores the enormity of the xenophobic attacks, which has claimed over 116 Nigerian lives in South Africa. She explained;
“Mr. Gigaba’s response to the mayhem that a segment of the South African people perpetrated on law-abiding Nigerians in South Africa smirks of insensitivity, and it’s therefore very reprehensible, if not unacceptable.
“In view of this unfortunate statement, I am therefore restating my earlier call on the African Union (AU) to take up the South Africa’s xenophobic issue as a matter of urgency.
“The days that the Nigerian government will fold its arms while its citizens are maltreated to the point that some of them have lost their lives for no just cause are long gone.”
Abike Dabiri-Erewa alleged that Mr. Gigaba preferred to make light the plight of Nigerians in his country at a time when it is worse than any time in recent history.
She said his response to the xenophobic attacks, which have now become a recurring decimal on Africans, most especially Nigerians living peacefully in their host country of South Africa, was indeed unfortunate.
Dabiri dispelled Mr. Gigaba’s claim that his country is trying to get rid of criminals at the time when Nigerians are being attacked. She added that it is suspicious that law-abiding Nigerians in South Africa are most often the targets of the anti-foreigner violence.
According to the Presidential Aide, the SA Home Affairs minister should have been more guarded and introspective in his statements so as not to further fan the embers of xenophobia that may get out control if care is not taken.
She also said:
“Even if this unguarded statement must be taken in its face value, we wonder if wanton destruction and indiscriminate killing of their African brothers is the most sensible excuse to give.”
Describing Xenophobia as a debilitating social disease, based mostly on ignorance, Dabiri pointed out that Nigeria and South Africa, have a long-standing diplomatic relationship typified by Nigeria’s pivotal in role in ending Apartheid.
She questioned if the indiscriminate killing of 116 Nigerians was how South Africa intended to pay Nigeria back for her support. Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa, therefore urged Mr. Gigaba to come up with a way of educating citizens of his country about the ruinous effects of xenophobia.
Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has sent an open letter to the Chairperson, Southern African Development Community, SADC, King Mswati III of Swaziland, urging him to convene an emergency summit of the SADC heads of state and government to discuss the persistent xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals living in South Africa.
SERAP urged SADC to use the Organ on Politics, Defence, and Security Cooperation within SADC to immediately set up an independent and impartial body to investigate all acts of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals.
The body further called for the investigation’s findings and recommendations to be made public, and suspected perpetrators brought to justice. It also insists victims must enjoy the right to an effective remedy and reparation.