Adelani Adepegba and Ramon Oladimeji
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora Matters, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has called on the South African Government to educate its citizens on the contributions of Nigeria to the former apartheid enclave.
She noted that Nigeria and South Africa had a long-standing diplomatic relationship in which the former played a critical, if not a pivotal role that culminated in ending apartheid, among so many of her positive interventions.
The presidential aide in a statement on Sunday in Abuja stated that the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other immigrants could not be resolved by diplomatic niceties, stressing that the Federal Government would not fold her arms while its citizens were being killed.
Her statement was in reaction to the position of South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, that there was no need for the African Union intervention in the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other immigrants.
Dabiri-Erewa described Gigaba’s statement as unfortunate and unacceptable and restated her earlier call for AU intervention in the attacks on foreigners in South Africa.
She said, “It appears that Mr. Gigaba would rather dwell on and entertain himself with diplomatic niceties when the welfare of Nigerians resident in South Africa are at stake now more than any time in recent history.
“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 to take up the South Africa’s xenophobic issue as a matter of urgency.”
The SSA noted that law-abiding Nigerians in the former apartheid enclave had borne the major brunt of xenophobic attacks, noting that the statement by Gigaba that his country was trying to get rid of criminals in his country at this time was very suspicious.
“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,” she said.
Also, a human rights group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, has urged the Southern African Development Community to investigate and punish the people behind the persistent xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals living in South Africa.
The group made the call on Sunday in an open letter by its Executive Director, Mr. Adetokunbo Mumuni, to the Chairperson, SADC, King Mswati III of Swaziland.
It urged the SADC to convene an emergency summit of the SADC heads of state and government to discuss the persistent xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
SERAP urged the SADC to use its “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 investigation’s findings and recommendations should be made public, suspected perpetrators brought to justice and victims must enjoy the right to an effective remedy and reparation.”
The letter read in part, “SERAP is seriously concerned about the apparent complicity of the South African authorities and officials in the persistent and serious human rights violations and abuses against thousands of Nigerians living in the country, and/or the failure of the authorities to exercise due diligence to prevent those violations and abuses.”
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