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Xenophobic Attacks: House seeks stiffer action against South Africa

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The House of Representatives on Wednesday, called on the Federal Government to institute stiffer measures against South Africa over the endless xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in that country.

This was sequel to a motion entitled “Urgent call for concerted Diplomatic Action to stop the recurring killings of Nigerians in South Africa” by Rep. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha (Abia-PDP) at plenary.

Moving the motion, Onyejeocha said it was disheartening that in spite of all efforts by the Federal Government on the issue, gruesome killings of Nigerians in South Africa had continued.

She urged the Federal Government to invoke the United Nations (UN) law on hate and all forms of xenophobic attacks against South Africa so as to make its government take the issue seriously.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the International Human Rights Legal Framework contains instruments, which Nigeria and South Africa are signatories to.

It is aimed at combating specific forms of discrimination, including discrimination against indigenous people, migrants, minorities and people with disabilities.

Onyejeocha said Nigeria should be ready to protect its citizens at home and abroad, declaring that “if you don’t value what you have, other people will not”.

She recalled the numerous incidents of gruesome killings of Nigerians in South Africa, regretting that the crime had persisted in spite of reactions of the House and the world to the act.

“There has been no resolute move by the Federal Government to engage South African government in a bid to nip it in the bud.

“On May 5, one Mr Francis Ochuba who hailed from Umudim Ngodo Isuochi, Umunneochi Local Government Area of Abia was gunned down in central Johannesburg while visiting his tenant with his female South African estate agent to demand rent.

“We are also informed that on May 13, Mr Chidi Ibebuike, who hailed from Uturu, Isuikwuato LGA, Abia, was shot dead and his car snatched at Mpumalanga, South Africa.

“One Sunday Ezeji popularly known as ‘Alhaji’ was also shot to death on Nov. 17, 2017 in front of his shop at Pretoria, South Africa.

“We are concerned that Nigerians remain an endangered people in South Africa with no succour in sight from either the Nigerian or South African Government,” she said.

The lawmaker said that it was worrisome that Nigerians “are attacked and killed in cold blood sometimes within the view of South African law enforcement agents’’.

She said a lot needed to be done by the Federal Government through deliberations with its South African counterpart to ensure the protection of its citizens and for justice to be done over previous incidents.

Onyejeocha, however, said that her committee had resolved that the House would invite the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

She explained that the government officials would brief the lawmakers on measures taken by the Presidency to guarantee security of lives and property of Nigerians in South Africa.

“We condemn the killings of Francis Ochuba, Chidi Ibebuike and Sunday Ezekiel on Nov. 17, 2017, May 5 and May 13, respectively, and other 116 Nigerians gruesomely murdered in South Africa in the last two years.

“We urge the Federal Government to undertake diplomatic engagements with the Republic of South Africa on the need to protect the rights and lives of Nigerians in South Africa.

“we mandate the Committees on Diaspora and Foreign Affairs to ensure the implementation,” she said.

In his submission, Rep Aminu Shagari described the xenophobic acts as recurrent decimal.

He said that in spite the efforts by the lawmakers to engage their South African counterparts on the matter, the intervention seemed unsuccessful.

According to Shagari, if South Africans cannot guarantee the lives of Nigerians, we also cannot guarantee the lives of South Africans in Nigeria.

On his part, Rep.Tobi Okechukwu (Enugu-PDP) said the motion called for concerted effort to stop the killings.

According to him, data available show that every month, five Nigerians are killed in South Africa.He said it was worrisome that while Nigerians were being attacked in South Africa, their nationals were having a field day in Nigeria.

Rep. Rotimi Agunsoye (Lagos-APC) noted that the role of government was to protect the lives and property of citizens at home and abroad, hence, Nigeria must not spare effort at ensuring protection of its nationals.

On her part, Rep. Nnenna Ukeji (Abia-PDP) expressed concern over the rate of arms proliferation in South Africa, which according to her, informed all the atrocities.She insisted that Nigeria should not relent in ensuring that perpetrators of the heinous act were prosecuted.

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