*Lawan says Nigeria has had enough of attacks on its citizens
Deji Elumoye in Abuja
Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, Tuesday reacted to the recent xenophobic attacks on Nigerians living in South Africa saying Nigeria has had enough of such attacks.
This is coming just as the Senate Chief Whip, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, called on Nigerians to retaliate such attacks while the immediate past Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, canvassed for the severance of diplomatic relations with South Africa in view of the persistent xenophobic attacks.
Lawan, in a statement personally signed by him, emphasised that Nigeria has had enough of its citizens being targets of the xenophobic attacks in South Africa and will no longer tolerate hate crimes in any form against its citizens who are doing legitimate businesses in that country.
Xenophobic violence, according to him, is most condemnable anywhere; more so in South Africa, a country whose citizens benefitted from the unwavered support and solidarity of Africans and freedom lovers across the world in their historic struggle against apartheid.
He added that “more disturbing, however, is that these attacks indicate the neglect of educating the younger generations on the sacrifices that Africans proudly made towards expunging the scourges of colonialism and apartheid from their continent.
“The enormous contributions of Nigeria to this historic struggle is underscored by its recognition as a frontline state in the prolonged confrontation against the powerful racist regime that had held generations of Southern Africans in bondage and subhuman conditions.
This recognition is in spite of the fact that Nigeria does not share geographical borders with the subregion and was far removed from the direct consequences of apartheid.
The liberation of South Africa was rightly celebrated across the continent and the Black world as the final emancipation of Africans from colonialism and apartheid.
Lawan therefore submitted that “it is therefore, an unacceptable irony that a section of South Africans would so soon, after now, choose other Africans in their country as the targets of mindless violent attacks over frustrations for which the innocent victims have no control.
The Senate President therefore acknowledged the efforts the Federal Government is making to register the indignation of Nigerians on the cruel treatment of their compatriots in South Africa and to force an end to it.
“As part of the efforts on Tuesday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, summoned the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has also dispatched a special envoy to meet with the South African authorities, in addition to scheduling a presidential visit to South Africa for discussions with the government of that country on how to end the attacks and redress the current situation.
“Every step necessary must be taken in protecting law-abiding foreigners, including Nigerians, and their businesses from hate crimes in South Africa. It is noteworthy that South Africans and their businesses are prospering from the clement environment that Nigeria offers to all without discrimination. We demand no less from them.
“The Senate is closely observing the situation and urges the Federal Government of Nigeria to accept nothing but the immediate cessation of hostility to Nigerians living in South Africa”.
Also reacting, Senate Chief Whip , Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, while condemning the attacks , called on all Nigerians to stand firm and retaliate rather than waiting on the South Africans to fish out the perpetrators.
Kalu , a former Governor of Abia state in a statement said “the gruesome killings, looting, arson of properties belonging to Nigerians and attack of Nigerian Embassy in South Africa is ill-conceived , disheartening and wicked .
“How can any sensible
person attack and burn a fellow human being just because he or she has a feeling to do so ? Those mindless criminals who attacked and prevented law abiding Nigerians to freely conduct their businesses must be made to pay for their crimes. Arresting them is not enough”.
Kalu questioned the essence of the renewed attack on Nigerians adding that South Africans in Nigeria have always lived and conducted their businesses in peace .
According to him , “if the South African government do not do more to protect the lives of Nigerians, there should be no reason to allow them to operate freely in Nigeria. All their enterprises deserve to be closed down including MTN, DSTV, Shoprite among others . In the spirit of brotherhood, we have supported them. Our doors have always been opened but it’s time we retaliate by shutting our doors.”
While commending President Muhammadu Buhari for dispatching a special envoy to the South African government, Kalu urged the federal government to hasten their intervention and institute stiffer measures against South Africa over the endless xenophobic attacks.
He added that the federal government should no long be patient on invoking the United Nations (UN) law on hate and all forms of xenophobic attacks against South Africa so as to make its government take the issue seriously.
On his part, former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has condemned the incessant xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other African nationals in South Africa, describing it as “un-African, barbaric, and unparalleled acts of ingratitude”.
The former Speaker of the Parliament of Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS Parliament, regretted that the Government of South Africa had not wielded the big stick to end the attacks, and called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to consider suspension of diplomatic ties with the Southern African nation until things were put right.
He said: “I find the incessant xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other African nationals in South Africa very un-African, barbaric, and unparalleled acts of ingratitude. It is quite disturbing that the Government of South Africa has not taken decisive steps to end these attacks, which have led to wanton loss of lives and properties of fellow Africans, especially Nigerians.
“The attacks defy and desecrate everything African brotherhood stands for, especially for a country that gained freedom with the support, sweat, and sacrifice of fellow African nations among which Nigeria clearly stands out. The attacks have reached scary and desperate degrees and call for desperate actions on the part of Nigeria, other African nations, and the African Union.
“It will therefore not be out of place for the Federal Government to suspend diplomatic relations with SA until full assurance of safety of Nigerians and their properties in South African are secured, adequate compensation paid for the damages, and the perpetrators also brought to book”.
The Chairman of the Senate committee on Environment further called on the African Union, AU, to take drastic actions that would call South Africa to order, noting that “the African Union could be reduced to an empty shell if law abiding African nationals cannot find peace and safety in a fellow African nation like South Africa, but are instead savaged by people who should be their brother’s keeper”.
“The AU should therefore summon an emergency session to sanction South Africa; and a suspension from the Union for unprovoked acts of hostilities against fellow Africans whose countries fought for the freedom they enjoy today will not be out of place”, Ekweremadu added.