Nigerian Government has directed the Nigerian High Commission and consulate in Pretoria and Johannesburg to investigate the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Sola Enikanolaiye, explained that the findings of the probe would be on his table this week.
This was occasioned by the killing of Nigerians in Pretoria and the looting of their properties by South Africans last Thursday through Friday.
The permanent secretary informed newsmen on Sunday in Abuja that the FG would take the appropriate response on getting the reports of the attacks on its citizens.
He advised Nigerians in South Africa to remain calm and law-abiding and assured them that everything would be done to protect them and their properties.
Enikanolaiye said, “In terms of what we have done so far, I have asked our mission in Pretoria and Johannesburg to file a full report, to investigate the alleged reported killing so that government would consider what is appropriate to the circumstance.
“I expect the report to reach me this evening (Sunday) or latest by tomorrow morning (today). I cannot do so until we have received the reports from our two missions.
“Nigerians should remain calm and law abiding and be confident that Nigerian government is watching development very closely.”
He stated that the government could not do anything now until it received a full briefing of the attacks, adding that the report of the investigation would be analysed and decisions on appropriate response taken.
Asked to comment on the reported alleged refusal of the South African police to protect Nigerians who were under attack, Enikanolaiye said it would be premature to speak further on the incident.
He stated that he had done the necessary thing by directing the mission and consulate to investigate the incident.
When asked about the failure of the South African Government to address repeated xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other immigrants, the permanent secretary retorted, “I can’t comment further until I receive full report from my two missions in Pretoria and Johannesburg and I’m in touch with them to file these reports to the government then we can take it further from there.”
Meanwhile, concerns over the killing of Nigerians in South Africa reverberated on Sunday as members of the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Relations, sought improved dialogue between Nigeria and the authorities in South Africa over the rising incidents.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja, the Chairman of the committee, Ms. Nnena Ukeje, said that there was a huge understanding gap between South Africans and Nigerians, which must be addressed.
She explained that this should be done through intensified dialogue between the Federal Government and the South African Government on the need for the latter to pursue deliberate policies of educating South Africans to be hospitable.
Ukeje added, “What has happened over the years is that, at the level of government, the relationship between Nigeria and South Africa is cordial.
“The political leaders accord each other mutual respect.
“But, this has not trickled down to the level of individuals, in terms of how South Africans see Nigerians. They don’t extend that hand of friendship to Nigerians.
“And that is where the problem is. The Nigerians and the South Africans have issues; but the governments have no issues.
“So, we need to engage the government (South Africa) more; there is the need for them to talk to their people more. There is a lot in our long history of relationship that the South African Government must tell their people for them to begin to accommodate Nigerians as their brothers.”
Ukeje ruled out retaliation as a solution, much as it seemed the easily suggested option by many people.
She explained that since the killings were not “institutional murders,” it was difficult to directly accuse the South African Government of sanctioning the killings.
She added, “Mostly, you find that it is individuals killing Nigerians. There is the xenophobic factor against foreigners in South Africa, and Nigerians are the worst hit.
“It is not like a particular government institution in South Africa is ordering the killings.
“That is why engagement and more engagement is advisable. At the level of the legislature, we, as a committee, have made efforts to engage our colleagues in the South African parliament on this issue.
“More of these engagements have to be carried out honestly for us to begin to see real results.”
Regrettably, while the killings were on the rise, Ukeje informed journalists that the committee did not have the record of any successful prosecution of the suspected murderers.