Nigeria Minister of Foreign Affairs, Godfrey Onyeama has declared that Nigeria has now drawn a red line with South Africa over constant attacks on Nigerians by the citizens of that country.
Speaking to newsmen shortly after an audience with President Muhammadu Buhari today, September 4, the minister 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.”
Onyeama however said that contrary to the news circulating in social media, no Nigerian life has been lost in the crisis in South Africa.
“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.
“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 disturbed 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.
“Now, these businesses – Shoprite, MTN and others, yes there are South African but these are subsidiaries in Nigeria owned by Nigerians. So, as attacks are made against shoprite and other such institutions, it is actually the property owned by Nigerians within Nigeria and the people working there are Nigerians.
“So the people that will suffer from those acts of vandalism and aggression are not South Africans or anyone else but Nigerians. But morally, it is wrong not even because of who will suffer and not suffer.
“Mr. President is appealing to Nigerians. The government is acting. We cannot state everything in public domain with regards to what we are doing. Obviously, we want to assure all Nigerians that this government is determined that the redline has been drawn and we will not give in on this occasion and that the South African government has to assumed its responsibilities and do the right thing: protect Nigerians and other Africans in South Africa and we have to hold them to account.
“Full compensation has to be paid because as we have discovered from previous experience, a lot of these Nigerians loss their property and it is a long drawn out process and every often are not compensated for it. But on this occasion, the Nigerian government is going to fight for full compensation and hold the government of South Africa to count. And we are going to consider other options to ensure that the message gets across to the government of South Africa.”