*Recalls envoy, demands compensation
*Pulls out of World Economic Summit
*Orders tight security around embassies, businesses
By Lawrence Olaoye and Tobias Lengnan Dapam
Following incessant xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other African nationals in South Africa, President Muhammadu Buhari has drawn a red line against the authorities of the country.
Briefing newsmen after a meeting with the President on how to react to the killings and maiming in S/Africa, with some Nigerians suffering some losses, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ugochukwu Onyeama said the President has resolved to hold the government of that country responsible and ensure that it pays compensation to the victims.
As a first step, he said the nation’s High Commissioner in S/Africa, Ambassador Kabiru Bala, will be withdrawn.
This is coming as he said the President cautioned against aggression and vandalism in retaliation to the treatment meted to Nigerians in South Africa.
While giving update on the xenophobic attacks, Onyeama said “We have made it clear that what has happened in South Africa is totally unacceptable. We will not accept it and as I said earlier, enough is enough and we are not going to come back to this. We are going to address it once and for all. So, this is the position of government that we are going to draw a redline here. Whatever measures that needs to be taken to ensure the safety of Nigerians in South Africa, we will take.
“We have been in touch with the South African government at the very highest level with the President of South Africa as to what we want to achieve. The special envoy has very clear directives about the commitment and the guarantees that we expect from the South African government.
“Of course a lot of things have been circulating in social media which have not helped matters. Some of them have really distorted the situation and that have impacted in our response.
“So, number one is that the information we have from the High Commission, from the Consul General in South Africa is that no Nigerian life has been lost during this crisis. And I think that is very important because on social media, there is a lot of stories going around of Nigerians being killed, jumping off buildings and being burnt. This is not the case.
“What we know is that premises, shops of Nigerians have been looted and property destroyed.”
He added that, “The Vice President as you know was scheduled to go to South Africa tomorrow to attend the World Economic Forum, clearly with this climate, he and Mr. President have agreed that he should not go to the World Economic Forum in Cape town and we are looking at other measures to take.
“Mr. President is particularly distraught at the act of vandalism that has taken place here in Nigeria, in retaliation of what is happening in South Africa.
“The government believes that we have to take the moral high ground on this matter. We are victims here and have made that position clear to the international community and to the South African government. We here in Nigeria must not fall into the temptation of also resorting to the acts that we are condemning in others.
“So, Mr. President has pleaded and he is likely to make a statement on this, addressing the Nigerian people to please desist from acts of vandalism and aggression, destroying properties.
“We will take whatever and all measures necessary to ensure that never again are we going back to this whole issue of Nigerians being attacked and properties destroyed and in some cases killed in South Africa.”
On how soon the president will address the nation and when the envoy is expected back, he said “Hopefully, the envoy will be back by the end of this week. Ideally, Mr. President will decide how he will communicate to the nation whether through live address or a written statement. But we feel that it will be better for him to do once he has all the elements.”
On why the Nigerian High commissioner has been recalled when the envoy was on his way to South Africa, he said: “No. it is one of the options we are considering. He will need to come back but we feel he should come back after the envoy has gone there so that Mr. President will also have the benefits of the full and comprehensive brief from all the individuals who are the position to have seen things at a close range.”
Meanwhile, the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Muhammed Adamu, has ordered water-tight security around embassies, foreign missions, foreigners and their businesses within the country.
The IGP in a statement issued yesterday by Frank Mba, the police spokesperson said the order was against the backdrop of the unfortunate attack on Shoprite outlets in Lekki Area of Lagos Sate on 3rd September, 2019 by some miscreants who attacked and looted the Malls ostensibly under the pretext of protesting against the incessant “xenophobic” attacks in South Africa.
“To this end, all Zonal Assistant Inspectors General of Police and Commissioners of Police across the Federation have been placed on red alert to ensure no similar violence is replicated within the country.”
The statement added that the IGP condemns the violent attacks and noted that three police officers were seriously injured and a Police operational vehicle set ablaze.
He also noted that a total number of One Hundred and Twenty-Five (125) suspects have been arrested in connection with the incident while a good number of looted valuables have been recovered by the Police.
While recognizing the rights of citizens to air their views on salient national issues as enshrined in our statutes, the Force reiterates that, “these must be done within the confines of the law. Miscreants and criminally-minded people who masquerade as genuine protesters are therefore warned to stay-off the streets of Nigeria as the Force will not hesitate to bring to bear the full weight of the law on any such law breaker. Parents and Guardians are therefore enjoined to prevail on their children and wards to desist from acts capable of causing breakdown of law and order in the country.”