By Lizzy Okoji
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, says the Federal Government has made concrete proposals to the South African Government for immediate implementation to avoid a recurring attacks on Nigerians in the country.
Onyeama made this known in Abuja on Tuesday when he invited South Africa’s Head of Mission, Bobby Moroe, to respond to the recent attacks on Nigerians and their businesses in the country.
Onyeama said that alongside proposal for implementation, the Nigerian Government had also urged its South African counterpart to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreed upon by both countries in 2018.
He said that the MOU contained frameworks and mechanisms that would bring an end to the unfortunate and recurring situation.
The minister said that the MoU highlighted the need for early warning system mechanisms, regular meetings between high level members of the South African Government and the Nigerian High Commission.
The MoU also seeks regular meetings with the Consular General and Nigerian Union of South Africa, informing each other of developments, anticipating events and essentially being prepared to pre-empt attacks.
“The Nigerian Government feels that very definitive measures have to be taken to stop once and for all these acts of aggression and criminality against Nigerians in South Africa.
“I invited the South African head of mission and we had very lengthy discussions and the South African government has issued a statement, arrests have been made.
“But for us the Nigerian Government, we are determined that we should not have any recurrence of this going forward, we must put in place mechanisms to ensure that this does not reoccur.
“We have made very concrete proposals to the South African Government today and we believe that if those measures are implemented, we have a very good chance of ensuring that this does not reoccur.
“We have to address the issue of compensation, there have to be accountability and there have to be responsibility for compensating all those Nigerians that have suffered loss and we are going to absolutely push.
“Secondly we believe that the two security forces, South Africa and Nigeria, can have an arrangement where there would be cooperation underground in South Africa to arrest such events and occurrences.
“This is something that we have to work out details with South African Government and hopefully the South African Government will support us in that initiative we believe will make all the difference,” Onyeama said.
Onyeama proposed that some officers of the Nigeria Police Force should be attached to the Nigerian mission in South Africa to engage with the South African Police on policing especially as it affects Nigerians in South Africa.
This he explained would be a game changer and would give confidence to the Nigerian community.
Responding, Moroe said that the South African Government greatly condemned the attacks which he described as acts by criminal elements to sabotage the cordial relationship between South Africa and Nigeria.
The envoy said that the attack was not xenophobic, explaining that the South Africa’s Police Minister announced that some South African businesses like Spar and Shoprite were also burnt.
“Our government condemns by all means any act of violence against any individual, the constitution of South Africa says that South Africa belongs to all those who live in it regardless of race, creed, gender.
“This new phenomenon that suggests that there are criminal elements within society that seek to create retrogression in the advancement that we have made between South Africa and Nigeria
“The South Africa Police authorities have already arrested 70 individuals in Johannesburg and Pretoria districts who have been found to be looting and destroying properties.
“We had a lengthy discussion with the minister, a number of propositions among which is the early warning mechanism, an agreement which has been proposed between the two countries and from now henceforth.
“We are going to be conveying the message of the Nigerian Government to our government to ensure that we find logical conclusions to this problem on ground,” Moroe said.
On the delay of the signing the MoU, Moroe explained that it was due to consultation processes with South Africa’s International Relations lawyers which he promised would be expedited.
Moroe also urged Nigerians and the media to be cautious and disregard viral videos and voice clips on social media showing Nigerians being brutalized and killed, explaining that most of them were from 2008. (NAN)