Xenophobia; Nigerian Govt Pulls Out From WEF, Jim Ovia Withdraws As Well, NANS Gives South Africans Ultimatum To Leave Nigerian By Monday

The government of Nigeria was quiet busy yesterday as they took concrete steps and measures to not only communicate their displeasure with the Xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa, they also showed they were ready to cut off ties with the country if need be.

The Federal Government after a meeting between Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and the South African High Commissioner, Bobby Monroe on Tuesday demanded an immediate end to the killings of Nigerians and compensation to the ones who had suffered loses from the South African government. The proposal from Nigerian government also included, security collaboration between the two countries.

He said: “We feel that very definitive measures have to be taken to stop once and for all this act of aggression and criminality against Nigerians in South Africa. For us, Nigerian government, we are determined that we should not have any re occurrence of this going forward. So, we have to put in place mechanism to ensure that this do not occur. We made very concrete proposals to South African government today, and we believe if those measures are implemented, we will have a very good chance of ensuring that this does not reoccur. In the first place, we must address the issue of compensation. There has to be accountability and there has to be responsibility for compensating all those Nigerians that have suffered loss and we are going to absolutely push forward.

“Secondly, we believe that the two security forces (South Africa and Nigeria), can have an arrangement where there will be cooperation on the ground in South Africa to arrest such events and occurrences and this is obvious something we have to work out details with the South African government and hopefully, see us addressing at the field level the challenges caused by this incessant attacks so we have put that forward to the South Africa government. Very clear proposals and we will be discussing that and hopefully the South African government will support us in that initiative as we believe it will make all the difference.”

Geoffrey Onyeama

Onyeama also revealed that efforts made in the past by the Nigerian government to stop incessant attacks, which included a jointly agreed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was yet to be signed by the South African government.

“As you are all aware, there has been another looting and burning of properties belonging to Nigerians in South Africa, and of course this is something we have seen in the past. As a result of some of these incidences in the past, I undertook at a time with the former Minister of Interior a trip to South Africa where we met senior members of the South African government. We proposed then that we should have an early warning mechanism, which essentially would see regular meetings between South African government and the Nigerian High Commission and Consul-General and Nigerian Union in South Africa on the other side meeting regularly, informing each other, anticipating events and essentially been prepared to pre-empt such attacks as we are witnessing today and taking other measures including compensation and so forth. Essentially haven the two working as a team. Unfortunately, the Memorandum of Understand (MoU) that was prepared to capture this has not been signed. The disadvantage with that is that there is no framework now for the relevance parties to meet and address this ongoing situation.”

Responding to the concerns of the Nigerian government, Monroe said that South Africa cherished the long-term relationship it has with Nigeria, he also claimed that 90 arrests have been made so far across South Africa.

Bobby Monroe

He emphasized that Sunday and Monday’s attacks were acts of criminality and not xenophobic, he said attention should be focused on the cordial relationship between the two countries rather than the challenges, because the bond is stronger. Monroe also condemned the attacks on Nigerian businesses; as he said his country has been trying very hard to address the ugly situation.

He also appreciated the Minister Onyeama, for providing the opportunity to unlock the bottlenecks between the two countries.

“Every national in South Africa have always been integrated within the society and we have a lot of foreigners who have chosen South Africa as their home. It is therefore very unfortunate that we found ourselves in this situation we found ourselves now. In a statement, the government condemned the spade of violence and rate of criminality, which demonstrate that there are criminals within society that seek to destabilize the country and create an impression that South Africans do not subscribe to the principle of “Obundo”, you are because I am”.

The South African Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) said the envoy called for calm in the statement. The South African government denounced the violence and crime in a statement, saying it was the wrong way to address the situation.

It stated: “The government calls for calm and restraint in certain parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, as community members raise their concerns and grievances about various issues affecting them. No amount of grievance or unhappiness can justify the looting of shops, destruction of properties and illegal blocking of roads. Such acts constitute a criminal offence and the law enforcement agencies must respond without any fear or favour. We are a democratic state that promotes robust dialogue and engagement with the dissatisfied communities. As government, we will not allow anarchy and violence to be the order of the day. We commend the quick response of the South African Police Services (SAPS), which has resulted in the arrest of a number of individuals. With regard to the attacks on trucks, 20 individuals have been arrested in KwaZulu-Natal after responding to incidents along major routes and known hotspots in the province. These arrests relate to public violence and obstruction of traffic, possession of unlicensed firearms, attempted murder and malicious damage to property. In Gauteng following the violence and looting of shops in Ekurhuleni, Tshwane and the Johannesburg CBD, seventy (70) arrests have been made in connection with public violence, malicious damage to property and theft. The police will continue their work to restore order in the affected areas and government urges all the law-abiding citizens to continue to work with the police and isolate the criminals.  Let us remain vigilant against fake news that are being peddled through the social media platforms to fuel tensions within the respective communities. Anyone found to be spreading the fake stories on social media will be dealt with accordingly. We cannot allow those who want to portray our country in a bad light to succeed. The government urges all members of the community to work together with the law enforcement agencies. Community members can report any criminal activities they have witnessed to the police using the 10111 emergency number.”

The Nigeria Consul-General in Johannesburg, Godwin Adama, who spoke to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in a telephone chat, said that lack of arrest, prosecution and trial with stringent punishment against crimes and other offences have contributed to the rising crime wave in South Africa. He also called for review of the South African judicial system to promote the fights against crime and all forms of impunity in that country.

“The judicial system is very lenient with those types of crimes, so if somebody commits crime now, the system will grant him bail immediately. Criminals cease the opportunity of such lenient system to commit crimes; and it is expected that if the government can review its judicial system, it will boost fights against crime. This will help in the future because as it is today, the whole law is lenient, and it leads to impunity. This is why the crime rate is difficult to control, even when you kill somebody now, they will grant you bail almost immediately, and this is what leads to impunity.

Also, in further reaction to the Xenophobic attacks, Nigeria recalled its Ambassador to South Africa, Ambassador Kabiru Bala and followed it up by pulling out of the World Economic Summit. These decisions were taken at a meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and Geoffrey Onyeama, at the Presidential Villa on Wednesday morning, and was followed with immediate actions.

The World Economic Forum on Africa was scheduled to start from September 4th to 6th in Cape Town, South Africa, and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was to address a panel on Universal Energy today, at the Forum, also in attendance would be Jim Ovia, Chairman Zenith Bank and Dr Oby Ezekwesili from Nigeria. The gathering was to help boost initiative intra-African trade. Information reaching WakeUpAfrica360 said that Jim Ovia has withdrawn from his participation in the WEF forum, this morning.

Jim Ovia

Nigeria has by this move joined the likes of Congo, Rwanda and Malawi, who pulled out of the summit, last Saturday ahead the attacks, while their governments gave no official reasons for their withdrawal. Buhari has also dispatched a special envoy to express his concerns about the attacks to President Cyril Ramaphosa. President Buhari may turn down the invitation of President Cyril Ramaphosa as well, according to reports.

Ramaphosa had invited Buhari to South Africa on October 3rd, for discussions on strengthening the unity between both countries, the invitation happened when they both met at the just concluded seventh Tokyo International Conference for Africa Development (TICAD7) in Yokohama, Japan. Both had agreed to meet in October; however, the meeting may no longer hold due to the Xenophobia in South Africa now.

Though the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is intent on securing investments worth $100Bn to the country, has issued a statement condemning the violence and suing for peace.  Ramaphosa said on Wednesday, that South Africans should never take justice into their own hands against people from other countries. “We need to quell those incidents of unrest, South Africa must be a country where everyone feels safe,” he said.

The latest South Africa attacks has sparked a nationwide outrage, as South African businesses such as MTN, Shoprite, PEP Stores, Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic IBTC bank etc remain shut down, due to attacks and expected attacks. Miscreants have also used to opportunities to loot the businesses and other businesses around the areas.

Police in South Africa have not been able to identify what caused the violence, that led to armed protests on the streets of Pretoria’s business district, pelting shops with rocks and petrol bombs, and running off with goods.

Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa, reports that “Some shops and businesses haven’t opened for days. The owners are afraid there could be more violence and looting.”

Somadoda Fikeni, a policy and political analyst at the University of South Africa, said the unrest had multiple causes. “The issue of foreign nationals, blaming them for many things which are not going well in the country and also the law enforcement and the economic conditions in the country, all of these combined, if not managed well, then create this cyclical tension between foreign nationals and locals, especially those who are in the margins because the middle class and those who are in the upper class, you hardly ever hear of such tension getting into this level,” he told Al Jazeera from Pretoria.

The Nigerian security agencies have beefed up security around the South African owned businesses, to quell further attacks. Even as Goeffrey Onyeama implored on Nigerians to stop attacking these businesses.

“These businesses, Shoprite, MTN and others, yes, they are South African, but these are subsidiaries in Nigeria owned by Nigerians. So, as attacks are made against Shoprite and other such institutions, it is actually the property owned by Nigerians within Nigeria and the people working there are Nigerians.”

Tiwa Savage

The tension caused by Xenophobia in South Africa has also affected the entertainment industry. Several entertainers have condemned the attacks, and female singer Tiwa Savage went ahead to withdraw her performance in the DSTV Delicious Festival, slated for 21th September, as she called for peace and consolation to all who had lost their loved ones. Savage’s decision was prompted by what seems to be an unverified video of a Nigerian man allegedly being killed by South Africans.

South African rapper Casper Nyovest also condemned the attacks, saying he was “embarrassed” by what was now a “recurring issue”.

Furthermore, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), has given all South African nationals living in Nigeria to leave the country latest on Monday next week. They said they would start attacking businesses with South African interest in any part of Nigeria before next week Monday, in reprisal attacks to the killing of Nigerians and looting of their businesses in South Africa.

National Public Relations Officer of NANS, Azeez Adeyemi, who led scores of Nigerian students to converge at Lalubu Road, Oke-Ilewo, Abeokuta, condemned the failure of the South African government to stop the ugly situation. He also said by today Thursday, all South African businesses in Ogun State and other parts of Nigeria would be shut down in protest over the ill-treatment of Nigerians by black South Africans.

“The anger of Nigerians especially our constituency, seems to have gotten to a point of real reaction against South Africans and their businesses in Nigeria. As students, we had embarked on mild struggles in the past against this inhuman act of the South Africans but the animals in human flesh have proven to us that, they can only stop if we up our actions against them”. Going forward, as young people who originally own this country, we would not wait for President Muhammadu Buhari who has refused to take leadership and decisive position on the menace of the South Africans.”

Adeyemi insisted that South Africans would not be attacked but listed three directives for them. He said, “Firstly, all South African businesses must close every kind of business transactions, opened at any point with our people in the next 12 hours. Secondly, by Thursday morning, all South African businesses operating in Nigeria must shut down totally as our comrades have been strategically positioned across the 36 states of the federation. Thirdly, South Africans living in Nigeria must leave our country latest by Monday morning.”

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