Reps condemn xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in S’Africa

John Ameh, Abuja

Members of the House of Representatives were angry on Wednesday as they condemned the renewed xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.

They criticised the apparent inaction of key Nigerian Government officials and agencies to respond adequately, particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

They were also unhappy that the authorities in South Africa looked the other way while Nigerians were either killed or had their workplaces destroyed by xenophobic South Africans.

The House, acting on a motion moved by the Chairman, House Committee on Diaspora Affairs, Mrs. Rita Orji, resolved that the National Assembly and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should appoint a delegation to engage the authorities in Pretoria over the development.

It said the delegation should remind South Africa of the “consequences of these ongoing xenophobic attacks against Nigerians and the likely repercussions.”

The resolution added that, “The House should mandate the Justice Department of the Foreign Affairs Ministry to independently investigate the immediate and remote causes of the attacks so as to arrive at acceptable conclusions.

“The delegation should assure Nigerian citizens in South Africa that the Nigerian Government is well positioned to aggressively defend the rights of Nigerians overseas, using the complete choice of obtainable means — from political and economic, to operations under international right of self-defence.”

Many members expressed sadness as they contributed to the debate, saying they could not understand why fellow blacks in South Africa always picked on Nigerians.

A former Minority Whip of the House, Mr. Mohammed Garba-Dhatti, recalled how Nigerians championed the liberation struggles during the apartheid era in South Africa.

“It is even more painful that today, the South African Government doesn’t do much to protect Nigerians living over there. Nigerians funded the liberation struggles in that country. We were contributing money to liberate them.

“What the government should do is to educate its citizens, particularly the younger generation, on these issues,” Garba-Dhatti added.

The Chairman, House Committee on Telecommunications, Mr. Saheed Fijabi, also condemned the attacks.

“What happens if Nigerians also start attacking South African business interests in Nigeria? They should stop what they are doing,” he stated.

On his part, the Minority Leader, Mr. Leo Ogor, advised the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to “wake up” to its responsibilities.

“They should let South Africa know that Nigeria has options. The issue of resorting to attacks is not a right of a particular country.

“But, we must act fast before we will be unable to contain the patience of Nigerians,” Ogor added.

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