AFRICANGLOBE – The Nigerian Senate, yesterday, urged President Goodluck Jonathan to recall Nigeria’s High Commissioner to South Africa, following the wave of xenophobic attacks against Nigerians and other Africans in South Africa.
It also hinted that the Federal Government would formally file a criminal case at the International Criminal Court, ICC, Hague, against the Zulu King, who was believed to have instigated the uprising through inciting comments.
The Federal Government also lodged a formal protest to the South African government, demanding compensation for victims of the attacks.
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Musiliu Obanikoro, summoned South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Lulu Mnguni “to register Nigeria’s protest over the ongoing xenophobic attacks against fellow Africans in South Africa.”
A statement from the Public Communications Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in Abuja yesterday said: “During the meeting with the envoy, Ambassador Obanikoro condemned the attacks on foreigners in South Africa, expressing concern on the fate of Nigerians and other nationals, who are migrants in the country.
“South Africa needed to take concrete steps to quell the unrest and bring the culprits involved to book to act as a deterrent and prevent further violence.”
He also called on the South African authorities to compensate the victims of these attacks, stressing that since South Africa was a major player in the continent, it should have its nationals live in peace in other countries.
South African Envoy Reacts
Mnguni, according to the statement, informed Obanikoro that the South African government was doing everything possible to address the attacks and prosecute those behind it.
Mnguni expressed appreciation to the Federal Government for the manner it had handled the crisis so far.
Soldiers were said to have been deployed overnight to tackle gangs hunting down and killing foreigners after about seven people had died in violence in the last few weeks. Yesterday, Police said 11 men were arrested in a raid in Johannesburg.
Meanwhile, after an open demonstration of its anger against the government and people of South Africa over the xenophobic attacks, the Senate, yesterday, asked President Jonathan to immediately recall Nigerian High Commissioner to South Africa, for urgent consultation.
This was just as it summoned the Foreign Affairs Minister to appear before it for a possible briefing on, not only the situation, but also measures being taken to safeguard the lives and property of Nigerians in South Africa.
The Red Chamber also hinted that the Nigerian government would formally file a criminal case at the ICC against the Zulu king, believed to have instigated the uprising through inciting comments.
These decisions were sequel to a motion, tagged Rising Incidence of Xenophobic Attacks in South Africa, sponsored by Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, PDP, Cross River Central and 107 others, and presented for debate during plenary, yesterday.
In the motion, the senators said South Africa was ungrateful, How Nigeria Spent $61 Billion To Free South Africa and ensure the emancipation of South Africa, the people of South Africa continued to maltreat and humiliate Nigerians without just cause.
The Senate urged Federal Government to mount pressure on South African government to bring the perpetrators of the act to justice and ensure adequate protection of Nigerians and their investments, as well as compensate families who lost members and property.
Commends Nigerians’ Maturity
It commended Nigerians for their restraint in the face of the attacks, just as it noted that the xenophobic attacks were precipitated by the comments of the renowned Zulu King.
The Senate, insisted that it was concerned that Nigerians living in South Africa have been seriously affected by the crisis “as no fewer than 50 have been reportedly rendered homeless after being displaced by these attacks and about 300 others displaced near Johannesburg.”
“By the last count, property and Nigerian businesses worth millions have been destroyed,” the Senate added.
All the senators, who contributed to the debate during the day’s plenary went emotional, expressing surprises that South Africans could maltreat foreigners, especially Nigerians, who they noted sacrificed so much to see a new South Africa.
In his remark, after taking contributions from senators, Senate President, David Mark, warned that Nigeria may not wait to see the South Africa stretch it beyond its limit.
He said: “What is happening in South Africa is totally unacceptable; it is unexpected and my humble suggestion will be that South Africa should not stretch us beyond our elastic limit on this matter.
“There is a limit beyond which the nation will not accept what is happening in South Africa and if we go beyond that limit, Nigeria will be forced to act.
“All of you have very clearly enumerated the assistance we gave to South Africa to liberate them when they had their crises. Students contributed, we accommodated so many of them, we gave the scholarships.
“For them to repay us this way, I think it is totally unacceptable and uncalled for; we need to stand up also for all other Africans in South Africa.
Mark On Zulu King
“The African Parliament must take this up seriously; we cannot have a situation where one king gets up and begins to say that people should go away. That is preaching hatred and is unacceptable.
“I agree with most of you that we have a responsibility to protect our citizens, in fact, that is our first responsibility and we must do that without thinking twice.
“South Africa must show Nigeria and the rest of Africa that they have taken legal steps against those who are involved,” he insisted, just as he said the Senate should also transmit its resolutions to the South African Parliament.
Senator Ganiyu Solomon, APC, Lagos West, said: “This is not the way to pay us back after our fights in liberating South Africa.
“We are wasting too much time; we should have recalled our High Commissioner even if we will still hold further discussions. This thing has happened before and it will be endless except something drastic is done.”
On his part, Senate Deputy Leader, Abdul Ningi, recalled the roles some of them played as students in Ahmadu Bello University to champion the cause of South Africa.
He said: “Some of us had to contribute money out of very tight budget to emancipate South Africa. We had to house some of them and contribute money to some of them.”
Other senators, who spoke against the xenophobic attacks, were Senator Helen Esuene, Labour Party, Akwa Ibom South; Senator Boluwa Kunlere, PDP, Ondo South; Senator Enyinaya Abaribe, PDP, Abia South, and Senator Ita Enang, APC, Akwa Ibom North-East, among others.
Reps Meet With Mnguni
Meanwhile, House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora has called on the South African government to immediately compensate Nigerians, who are victims of the xenophobic attacks.
The committee’s Chairman, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, made the call yesterday, while presenting the resolution of the House to the South African Ambassador to Nigeria, Lulu Mnguni, in Abuja.
She said apart from putting an end to the provocative and barbaric attacks on immigrants, the South African government should compensate survivors.
She expressed regrets that the attacks had undermined the unity, which African Union had fought for over the years.
The High Commissioner apologized for what had happened.
He said: “The issue of compensation has been raised on a number of fora, but threat to life still remains our concern for now. We want to secure life and livelihood and stabilize the situation.”
He said plans were in place to include in South African schools syllabuses the roles of African countries in anti-Apartheid fight, so as to change the orientation of post-Apartheid generation.
By: Emma Ovuakporie, Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Joseph Erunke and Chris Ochayi