The Nigerian government has denied recalling its envoys from South Africa following the xenophobic attacks on foreign citizens in the country.
Briefing journalists at the State House Abuja on Monday, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Reuben Abati, said what was in the public domain was a mix up and misinformation on the matter.
In a statement on Saturday by the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Aminu Wali, said the envoys had been summoned for consultation.
The statement had read, “The Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Aminu Wali, has summoned for consultation, Nigeria’s senior diplomats on tour of duty in South Africa. These are the Acting High Commissioner in Pretoria, Ambassador Martin Cobham, and the Deputy High Commissioner in Johannesburg, Ambassador Uche Ajulu-Okeke.
“The invitation is in connection with the ongoing xenophobia in South Africa targeting foreigners, mainly African migrants. It will be recalled that the current spate of attacks began about three weeks ago, and have so far claimed some seven lives, destruction of property and created fear and uncertainty in the minds of African migrants in the former apartheid enclave.
“The South African President, Jacob Zuma, has condemned the attacks in a statement presented to the South African National Assembly. Ditto for the Zulu Monarch, Goodwill Zwelithini, whose alleged inciting comment provoked the attacks. Well-meaning South Africans have also organised peace marches against xenophobia.”
The South African government has since criticised Nigeria’s decision on the withdrawal of its envoys.
However, Mr. Abati told journalists that they had only been invited for routine consultations.
“It is not true that Nigeria has recalled its envoy in South Africa on account of recent xenophobic attacks in that country,” he said. “There is a mix up and misinformation on the matter.
“The truth is that Nigeria has not recalled his envoy from South Africa. What has been done is to invite the Charge De Affairs in that country for routine consultation by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Recall of envoy is a serious and sensitive matter, that has not happened.”