Nigerians resident in South Africa have been directed by the Federal Government to remain indoors up until the ongoing xenophobic attacks inthe country are put under control.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aminu Wali, disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of a meeting he attended at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said the directive was communicated to them by Nigeria’s mission in Pretoria.
The minister said, “With the discussions I have been having with Nigeria’s Head of Mission in Pretoria, no Nigerian has so far been affected.
“They informed me that they have called members of the Nigerian community and addressed them and told them to close their shops, stay at home and keep out of trouble and obey the laws of South Africa.
“They have also confirmed that the South African authorities have moved in to take actions that would forestall any further disturbance in that country.”
Wali however said the government would not hesitate to evacuate Nigerians from the country if the situation worsened.
He said, “If it (the situation) gets worse, it is the duty of our country to make sure our people are brought back and we are taking that duty seriously. We are not prepared to allow any of our nationals to be subjected to such inhuman treatment.
“We are not being reactionary because this is happening to all foreigners, not Nigerians alone. We are monitoring the situation and will now take action according to the situation that develops.”
On the investigation ordered by the President on the recent diplomatic row between Nigeria and Morocco over the reported telephone conversation between Jonathan and King Mohammed VI of Morocco, Wali simply said, “We are still at it.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs later issued a statement in which it called on the South African government to stop the attacks and put in place measures to “prevent a recurrence.”
Condemning the attacks, which began two weeks ago, it said Nigeria abhorred violence and also “stands firm in its conviction that no cause could justify taking innocent souls.”
The statement read in part, “The people and government of Nigeria stand in solidarity with the rest of the world to condemn these unprovoked attacks on fellow Africans who have left their countries to seek greener pastures and better livelihood for themselves.
“The government of Nigeria would like to use this medium to reiterate its abhorrence of violence and therefore calls on the government of South Africa to live up to its responsibilities and take all necessary steps to stop the ongoing xenophobic attacks.
“It is gratifying to note, however, that the South African President(Jacob Zuma), has condemned the attack. In addition, the city of Durban has also organised rallies against xenophobia.”
Also in Abuja, the House of Representatives asked the government to recall Nigeria’s Ambassador to South Africa for “consultations” over the widespread attacks and killing of non-South African blacks.
A motion debated by the members of the House in Abuja, highlighted the plight of African migrants in South Africa, whom they said were being “slaughtered like animals” by black South Africans.
The motion stressed that Nigerians were among the victims.
The House specifically requested South African President, Jacob Zuma, to immediately investigate the attacks and punish those responsible.
The motion was sponsored by the Chairman, House Committee on Diaspora Affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
“Nigeria frowns on the spate of killings of Nigerians in South Africa and requests President Zuma to investigate the cases and bring the perpetrators to justice,” the motion stated.
Dabiri-Erewa noted that though Nigerians had suffered xenophobic attacks in the past in South Africa, the latest cases were ignited by comments credited to the Zulu King, Goodwill Zwelithini, who had reportedly asked migrant Africans to return to their countries of origin.
The motion read further, “The House notes sadly that the recent attacks which have left many dead, businesses and shops vandalised, many beaten up mercilessly, were incited by a statement allegedly made by South African Zulu King, Goodwill Zwelithini, who told African migrants to go home as they are no longer welcomed in South Africa.
“Son of President Zuma, Edward, allegedly echoed the same statement. This ignited a strong debate, and worse still, immediate backlash of violent reactions among the Zulus in Kwazulu, who unleashed terror on foreign immigrants, including Nigerians in Jo-bourg, Durban and Pretoria.
“They steal, break into their homes, business, take their property, killing them.
“At least, five have been killed in Durban, hundreds stranded and unable to return home.”
Many members, who contributed to the debate, expressed sadness over the turn of events in South Africa.
They recalled with pain, the sacrifices Nigeria made to free South Africa from the clutches of apartheid.
“What is happening in South Africa is a demonstration of the shortness of their memory,” a member from Enugu State, Tobi Okechukwu, said.
Another lawmaker, Abubakar Momoh, advised South Africans to turn their anger against those who oppressed them in the apartheid era and not fellow Africans, who gave so much to secure their freedom.
The motion was passed in a unanimous voice vote at Thursday’s session, which was presided over by the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal.
A Nigerian, based in South Africa, on Thursday told The PUNCH that the South African Government was secretly promoting the attacks on black Africans in their country.
“It’s horrendous. The government is secretly gingering them. The government wants all illegal immigrants to be driven away but it went out of proportion. But our people are prepared. We are not running away.”
Credits: JOHN AMEH, OLALEKAN ADETAYO AND FRIDAY OLOKOR