Xenophobia: Nigeria denies severing ties with South Africa

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Federal Government of Nigeria on Friday denied media reports that it has severed diplomatic ties with Republic of South Africa over recent and past xenophobic attacks by South Africans against Nigerians and other foreigners in the country.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, who spoke to the Senate correspondents in Abuja, however, said the government would strongly push for compensation from South African government for Nigerians affected in the latest xenophobic attacks.

Onyeama had earlier briefed the Senate Committee on Diaspora, chaired by Senator Basiru Ajibola (APC Osun Central) in a closed-door meeting over the wide range of diplomatic moves being made by the Nigerian government to get its South African counterpart and her citizens realise the need to prevent such attacks against Nigerians and other Africans from reoccurring again.

The diplomatic moves according him, have not in anyway, reached the stage of severing diplomatic ties with South Africa.

“We are not thinking to the stage of diplomatic ties called off now. There are various options. We are not by any means at a stage where we are breaking diplomatic relations with South Africa” , he said .

He however said that despite the declaration by the South African Government that there would be no compensation for affected people in the last Monday attack; Nigerian government would push for that by all means.

“Nigerian government will be demanding that the victims should be compensated. This is important despite the position of the South African government that there is no provision for that by their own law. They will definitely be made to resort to other insurance companies or other private arrangements for that.

“So the options that are being considered is weighty enough to ensure that the Government of South Africa is alive to its responsibility on the rule of law but not in any way relating to severance of ties “, he added .

He however appealed to Nigerians not to retaliate the attacks in any way for the sake of interests of both countries, particularly the 800,000 Nigerians resident in South Africa.

“Fundamental in resolving this matter is for us to appeal to Nigerians not to take laws in to their hands.

“As it has been Stated in the earlier statement on committee of Diaspora in the senate we need to exercise restraints as Nigeria is a leader in Africa and as a country we must also show that we are responsible as two wrongs can never make a right so we appeal to Nigerians to remain calm”, he said .

In his own remarks, Senator Ajibola said diplomatic options were the best approach to the problem and not retaliation or diplomatic face off.

He said: “As we are today, from reliable information, not less than 800,000 Nigerians are living in South Africa. So if you want to take decision you must be able to protect their interest because they have been tied to the South African society for many years .

“So, when you are taking decision you have taken decision that will promote the interest of all Nigerians that are in that country”.

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