President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the voluntary evacuation of Nigerians that are willing to return from South Africa. This is coming after the xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa and the return of the envoy sent on behalf of the president.
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Punch Newspaper: Buhari receives envoy to South Africa, orders evacuation of 640 Nigerians
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday directed the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, to monitor the measures the South African government would take to end the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians by further engaging the “appropriate authorities.”
The President also gave clear instructions that Nigerians willing to return home should be evacuated from South Africa immediately. The President took the decisions when he received the report of the special envoy he sent last week to his South African counterpart, President Cyril Ramaphosa, to register Nigeria’s concerns over the attacks.
The Presidency, in a statement on Monday in Abuja, said the special envoy, who is the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Rufai-Abubakar, returned to Nigeria after the assignment and had submitted his report to the President. It said Rufai-Ababukar was in Pretoria from Thursday to Saturday. While in Pretoria, the envoy conveyed the following to Ramaphosa, “The deep concern of President Buhari and Nigerians about intermittent violence against Nigerians and their property/business interests in South Africa. “President Buhari stressed the need for South African government to take visible measures to stop violence against citizens of brotherly African nations. “President Buhari is worried that the recurring issue of xenophobia could negatively affect the image and standing of South Africa as one of the leading countries on the continent, if nothing is done to stop it.
“The special envoy conveyed the assurance of President Buhari that the Nigerian government was ready and willing to collaborate with the South African government to find a lasting solution to the involvement of few Nigerians in criminal activities, and to protect the lives and property of the larger groups of other law-abiding Nigerians and indeed Africans in general, against all forms of attacks including xenophobia. “President Buhari further assured that the Nigerian government will guarantee the safety of lives, property and business interests of South Africans in Nigeria.”
The statement, which was signed by the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, also gave details of Ramaphosa’s responses. It added, “On his part, President Ramaphosa agrees that the violence is most disconcerting and embarrassing, adding that his government completely rejects such acts, which undermine not only the country’s image, but also its relations with brotherly African countries. “President Ramaphosa reaffirmed his stand against criminality and that he was committed to doing everything possible to protect the rights of every Nigerian and other foreign nationals in the country.”
Upon receiving the report, Buhari said he had taken note of it and directed Onyeama “to continue to engage with appropriate authorities on the concrete measure the South African government is expected to take.” He also gave “instructions for the immediate voluntary evacuation of all Nigerians who are willing to return home.”
The Presidency added that the envoy also met with his South African counterpart “where they reviewed the situation of foreign emigrants in general and Nigerians in particular.”It said the two “agreed to work together to find a permanent solution to the root causes of the recurring attacks on Nigerians and their property.”
Also on Monday, the Presidency said the number of Nigerians in South Africa, who had shown interest in returning home had risen from 400 to 640.
The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, stated this when she appeared before the Senate Committee on Diaspora.
Dabiri-Erewa, who addressed journalists in company with the Chairman of the Senate panel, Ajibola Basiru, said emergency travel documents were being issued to Nigerians whose papers had expired. She added that two aircraft had landed on the South African soil to bring the first batch of Nigerians.
She said eight South African policemen were already being prosecuted over various xenophobic cases against Nigerians. She said the documentation process for those with expired papers had started to ensure their easy entry into Nigeria.
She said, “As I speak with you now, we have 640 Nigerians voluntarily registered to come home and they will be home in a couple of days. “We believe that more will still be coming to register. Two planes will convey them. The envoy will be briefing the President. When we receive the first two batches, we will know how many more will come.
She said eight policemen had been charged for their involvement in killing of Nigerians in South Africa and four more had been arrested. Dabiri -Erewa said the Federal Government was still expecting the report of the investigation into the death of the Deputy Director-General of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria, Mrs Elizabeth Chukwu, who was murdered in South Africa.
She said, “They promised us to get the result. Also, there must be consequences for actions. If policemen or your people go out killing people and nothing happens to them, it will continue to happen.” Nigeria’s Consul General in Johannesburg, Godwin Adama, had told the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Abuja, that Air Peace had offered to airlift those willing to return home.
In a related development, the Presidency on Monday reiterated its condemnation of the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, saying if Nigerians had the kind of country they wanted, they would not go and become second-class citizens elsewhere. The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Adesina stated this in Abuja on Monday, adding that although there might be many faults with Nigeria, citizens must strive to love the country and work for its progress.
Adesina spoke at the Naija Youth Talk organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund to mark the 2019 International Literacy Day. The President’s spokesman said, “Youths have a right to want a country because they are stakeholders. They have a right to ask for the country they want, a country where there will be no xenophobia and nobody will tell us; go back to your country. “If we have the kind of country we want, why would we go and become second and third class citizens anywhere else? We should get the kind of country we want. I would like to stress that for us to get that country, we must love our country.
The UNICEF Country Representative, Peter Hawkins, said Nigeria youths deserved an education system with “good learning outcomes, where a child of nine years f basic education can read, write and have excellent numeracy skills.” Also, the presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria in the 2019 election, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, and leaders of the Nigerian community in Cape Town, called on Ramaphosa to apologise to countries whose citizens were attacked.
They made the demand at a meeting held on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Cape Town. Members of the delegation that met with Ezekwesili included the representative of Yoruba community in Cape Town, Chief T.A Odutayo; Chairman of Ohaneze Ndigbo (Western Cape), Chief Vincent Nzekwe and Secretary, Simon Odumegwu.
Ezekwesili and the Nigerian community in South Africa, according a communique issued after the meeting and obtained in Abuja on Monday, described the attacks as Afrophobia. While demanding an apology from Ramaphosa, they called on South African government to trigger series of actions necessary to de-escalate the brewing conflict to ensure that bilateral trade agreements between the countries would not be affected.
The Nigeria Labour Congress, Ekiti State chapter Chairman, Kolapo Olatunde, on Monday appealed to Nigerians not to destroy the property and businesses of South African nationals. Olatunde, who said failure of the government to provide employment for citizens forced Nigerians to seek greener pastures in other better countries, thereby subjecting them to attacks as being witnessed in South Africa. The NLC boss said in a telephone chat with journalists in Ado Ekiti that “the killing and the destruction of Nigerians and their property in South Africa confirmed failure of governance. The solution to xenophobia is for Nigerian government to provide reliable jobs for its citizens.”
Meanwhile, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has said it will take “appropriate actions,” in response to the xenophobic attacks in South Africa. Nigerian advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, had on Sunday called upon the commission to sue South Africa and demand $10bn damages for Nigerian victims of xenophobia.
SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oludare, said in a statement on Monday that justice might be on the way for xenophobia victims as the African Commission had promised to take up the issue.
Oludare’s statement quoted the Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ms Soyata Maiga, as acknowledging SERAP’s letter and promising that necessary actions would be taken. “Thank you for your open letter requesting our commission to take action to the court. I have just shared the letter with Ms Jamesina Essie King, the Chair of the Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, for follow-up and appropriate action,” Maiga was said to have written in a reply mail to SERAP.
Commending Maiga’s quick response, Oludare said it signified the commitment of the African Commission “to stand up for the human rights of Nigerians and other foreign nationals in South Africa, and to become more responsive to rights holders and victims.” “This will put massive pressure on the South African authorities and political leaders to uphold the highest standards in the protection of human rights of Nigerians and end their political rhetoric and incitement to hatred, violence and discrimination,” the SERAP Deputy Director said.
On his part, Senator Benjamin Uwajimogu said the Federal Government should change strategies to tackle the spate of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa. He said the advice became necessary following the failure of previous efforts to engage the South African government on the killings.
Uwajimogu, representing Imo North senatorial district on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, stated this in a statement in Abuja on Monday. He said, “Enough is enough! This is wicked and shameless. The Federal Government has my full support and that of the Senate is taking every measure necessary to tackle the rising xenophobic attacks in South Africa, “Since previous efforts to engage the South African government on these unabated attacks have yielded no gain, the onus is now on the Federal Government of Nigeria to change tactics and strategies, and make a profound statement.”
He described South Africans as intolerant and spiteful of Nigeria which was “a country that gave its all for their freedom from apartheid.” Uwajimogu said, “My heart bled when I heard the news of the unfortunate incident, where hundreds of Nigerians in South Africa have been mobbed, harrassed, some maimed and killed, and their property looted and vandalised. “Some are subjected to all forms of indignities, all in the name of envy, hate and prejudice, while the security agencies in that country were either complicit or they watched helplessly.”
Guardian Newspaper: Buhari orders evacuation of Nigerians from South Africa
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday ordered the immediate evacuation of all Nigerians who are willing to return home from South Africa following the xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals.He gave the instruction when he received the report of the Special Envoy to South Africa, Ambassador Ahmed Abubakar, who is the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Buhari had in the wake of the xenophobic attacks by South Africans against foreigners, including Nigerians, sent the NIA boss as his special envoy to South Africa.A News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) report quoted a statement by the president’s spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, in Abuja yesterday, saying that the special envoy was in Pretoria from September 5 to September 7, 2019. He said that Abubakar conveyed Buhari’s special message to the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The special envoy expressed deep concern of President Buhari and Nigerians about the intermittent violence against Nigerians and their property and business interests in South Africa. He said Buhari stressed the need for the South African government to take visible measures to stop violence against citizens of brotherly African nations.
In his official Twitter page yesterday, Buhari said: “I have received the report from the special envoy I sent to South Africa last week. We will continue to put pressure on the South African government to take concrete and visible measures to stop violence against citizens of other African nations. “The recurring issue of xenophobia and attacks on African nationals remains very worrying. If nothing is done to stop it, it could negatively affect the image and standing of South Africa as one of the leading countries in Africa. It has to be stopped.“On our own part, let me reiterate that the Nigerian government will continue to do everything possible to ensure the safety of the lives, property and business interests of Nigerians in South Africa, and of South Africans in Nigeria. “Let me also say that we have made arrangements for the immediate voluntary evacuation of all Nigerians in South Africa who are willing to return home. I have directed the relevant agencies to ensure this is done speedily and efficiently.”On his part, President Ramaphosa had agreed that the violence was most disconcerting and embarrassing. He was quoted as saying that his government completely rejected such acts, which undermine not only the country’s image but also its relations with brotherly African countries.
Ramaphosa promised to do everything possible to protect the rights of every Nigerian and other foreign nationals in the country.Adesina said that the special envoy also interfaced with his South African counterpart, where they reviewed the situation of foreign emigrants in general and Nigerians in particular. “They agreed to work together to find a permanent solution to the root causes of the recurring attacks on Nigerians and their property,” he said.
The Chairman, Nigerian Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa disclosed that 640 Nigerians in South Africa had registered to return home following the willingness of the Federal Government to evacuate them to safety.She made the disclosure yesterday while fielding questions from journalists after meeting with the Senate Committee on Diaspora and NGOs. “As I speak with you now, we have 640 Nigerians voluntarily registering to come home, and they would be home in a couple of days. We believe that more will still be coming to register.”According to her, two planes have been secured for the evacuation of Nigerians. Those willing to return but are faced with the challenge of expired documents should not worry as the Federal Government has directed the Nigerian High Commission to provide them with documents that will make them to be air lifted back to Nigeria.
Dabiri-Erewa challenged the South African government to show more commitment to prosecuting the eight policemen connected to the killing of Nigerians in the wake of the xenophobic attacks about a year ago, and another four persons who have been arrested recently.
Meanwhile, a former Minister of Education, Obiageli Ezekwesili, and leaders of the Nigerian community in Cape Town have met to proffer a solution to the recurring xenophobic attacks in South Africa.The meeting held on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Cape Town, South Africa, comprised Nigerian entrepreneurs, professionals and Mr. Cosmos Echie, the acting President of the Nigerian Community, Western Cape.
In a statement issued after the interactive meeting, the forum preferred to describe the attacks as Afrophobia.“It was unanimously agreed that the crisis is detrimental to the spirit of African renaissance, affirmation of black heritage, progress and development. Afrophobia compromises everything that the recently brokered intra-African trade – Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement — represents and aspires to deliver.”Ramaphosa was asked to apologise to Nigerians and other countries whose citizens were attacked, and the South African government should trigger a series of actions necessary to de-escalate the brewing conflict.
Sun Newspaper: As special envoy returns from South Africa… Buhari: Nigerians must be brought home now
Nigeria is expected to repatriate over 600 citizens from South Africa with effect from tomorrow. Preparatory to the exercise, two aircrafts have landed in South African to ferry the first batch back home. The number of Nigerians eager to return as a result of recent xenophobic attacks, as at yesterday, had risen from 400 to 640 yesterday.
Making the disclosure to journalists at the Senate wing of the National Assembly, Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said more home-bound Nigerians resident in South Africa were being attended to by way of documentation. Dabiri-Erewa, who stated this after appearing before the Senate Committee on Diaspora, explained that emergency travel documents were being issued to some of the home-bound Nigerians whose papers had expired.
Some in the batch would leave on two flights tomorrow, Godwin Adamu, Nigerian Consul General in Johannesburg, said. A first flight will carry 320 Nigerians, he said, adding: “We will have another one immediately after that.”
However, only those who were in distress as a result of the attacks would leave the country. Dabiri-Erewa said eight South African policemen were being prosecuted for various acts of xenophobic violence against Nigerians. “As I speak with you now, we have 640 Nigerians voluntarily registered to come home and they will be home in a couple of days. “We believe that more will still be coming to register. Two planes will convey them. The envoy will be briefing the President. When we receive the first two batches, we will know how many more will come.”
She explained that the envoy’s briefing to the President would influence the next line of action. In the meantime, she said the aurthorities would continue to demand compensation for Nigerians that have been attacked in South Africa. “Also, we know that eight policemen have been charged to court for their involvement in killings of Nigerians in South Africa and four more have been recently arrested. “We are demanding that these investigations must end so that we can know exactly what is happening. As it is now, Nigerians in South Africa are very excited about the move taken by the government. “We continue to reiterate Mr. President’s directive that no Nigerian should be treated anyhow anywhere in the world. We assure Nigerians wherever they are that the Nigerian government will continue to come to their aid. “As for Nigerians in South Africa, we advise them to remain calm. There are some shops in volatile areas, which should not be opened, while we continue to engage to get justice for all Nigerians affected,” she said.
When asked what plans government had for Nigerians returning from South Africa, Dabiri-Erewa said government could not offer financial help to them. “They went on their own and have volunteered to come back. They belong to states as well but, on the part of the Federal Government, we have the Special Intervention Programme that we encourage them to enroll in. “This administration is doing everything possible to make Nigeria a better country to live in. We will also be issuing more advisory as to what to expect, where to go to, and what to do,” she said.
For the first time since the South African crisi began, President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, ordered the immediate evacuation of all Nigerians willing to return home. He gave the directive when he received the report of the special envoy to South Africa, Amb. Ahmed Abubakar, director-general, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
A statement by the President’s spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, in Abuja, said the special envoy was in Pretoria from Thursday, September 5, to Saturday, September 7. He said Abubakar conveyed President Buhari’s special message to President Ramaphosa, expressing the concerns of President Buhari and Nigerians about intermittent violence against Nigerians and their property/business interests in South Africa.
He said the President stressed the need for the South African government to take visible measures to stop violence against citizens of brotherly African nations. “Buhari is worried that the recurring issue of xenophobia could negatively affect the image and standing of South Africa as one of the leading countries on the continent, if nothing is done to stop it,’’ he said.
The envoy also conveyed assurances that Nigeria was willing to collaborate with South Africa to find a lasting solution to the involvement of few Nigerians in criminal activities. “Nigeria would partner with the South African government to protect the life and property of the larger groups of other law-abiding Nigerians and indeed Africans in general against all forms of attacks, including xenophobia. “Buhari assured that the Nigerian government would guarantee the safety of life, property and business interests of South Africans in Nigeria,’’ it further stated.
On his part, President Ramaphosa agreed that the violence was most disconcerting and embarrassing. He was quoted as saying that his government completely denounced such acts, which undermine not only the country’s image but also its relations with brotherly African countries.
Ramaphosa has reaffirmed his stand against criminality and committed to do everything possible to protect the rights Nigerians and other foreign nationals in the country. Adesina said that the special envoy also interfaced with his South African counterpart, where they reviewed the situation of migrants in general and Nigerians in particular. “They agreed to work together to find a permanent solution to the root causes of the recurring attacks on Nigerians and their property,” he said.
According to the presidential aide, President Buhari has taken note of the report and instructed the minister of foreign affairs to continue to engage with appropriate authorities on the measures the South African government is expected to take.
More than 100,000 Nigerians are estimated to live in SA, Adamu said. Foreign workers in SA – the continent’s second largest economy after Nigeria – are often victims of anti-immigrant sentiment in a nation where almost one in three people are unemployed. The violence prompted reprisal against South African firms in Nigeria and the temporary closing of South Africa’s diplomatic missions in Lagos and Abuja.