Xenophobic Attacks: Nigeria makes two major demands from South Africa

Geoffrey Onyeama, Nigerian foreign minister says South Africa must act decisively.
Geoffrey Onyeama, Nigerian foreign minister says South Africa must act decisively.

The Nigerian government has made two major demands from South Africa in the aftermath of xenophobic attacks in the country.

The businesses of many Nigerians in South Africa have been destroyed, looted or burnt in the past week since xenophobic attacks resumed in the country against foreign nationals.

Before the latest incident, many Nigerians have also been killed in suspected xenophobic attacks by South Africans.

Speaking to journalists after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister, Geoffery Onyeama, said Nigeria had made two major demands from the South African government.

He said a special envoy sent by President Muhammadu Buhari to South Africa will focus on the two issues.

“It is just those two key issues, the compensation payment and what security mechanism be put in place to make sure that these kinds of attacks do not recur,” the minister said.

Read the transcript of the interview Mr Onyeama had with journalists below.

Q: What have you to say over xenophobic attacks on Nigerians by South African citizens?

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Onyeama: We have registered our strong protest to the government of South Africa. But most importantly, we have put forward to the South African government what we think will make a big difference: one with regard to compensation with those who have suffered loss and most importantly, a security proposal that we believe will safeguard the security of Nigerians in the future.

Q: What are you hoping to see in South Africa in terms of security?

Onyeama: We are hoping to see the possibility of sending some security agents deploying them initially in the Nigerian High Commission to work closely with the South African police force. We believe that would be a very important process to address and preempt this kind of attacks and possibly for them to also be embedded within the police force of South Africa.

So you will have some certain number of Nigeria security people trying to work with the South African police force.

Q: Is there likely to be a reciprocal effect in the event that the South African government did not cooperate?

Onyeama: We don’t believe that two wrongs make right, I think in terms of revenge on those kinds of attack is not what we are looking forward to. The South African government has assured us that they are doing everything possible to address the situation, that they are equally exasperated by the whole event. We believe that with that goodwill, we may be able to work together to put in place these mechanisms that would make a difference.

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Q: The special envoys will be leaving for South Africa. What will be the key issues that would be discussed with their president?

It is just those two key issues, the compensation payment and what security mechanism be put in place to make sure that these kinds of attacks do not recur; we need to have a viable mechanism in place. Like I have said one of the possibilities that we are proposing is to have some Nigerian security operatives working with the South African police and attached to the Nigerian High Commission in South Africa.

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