The South African government yesterday deported 97 Nigerians resident in that country to Nigeria, just as the National Assembly condemned in strong terms the xenophobic attacks against African immigrants, particularly Nigerians, and resolved to send a delegation to meet with the South African parliament on measures to be adopted to stop the attacks.
The deportation of the 97 Nigerians may be a fallout of the recent xenophobic attacks against African immigrants in the Southern African country.
THISDAY learnt that the 97 Nigerians were deported for civil and criminal offences.
Of the total, six of the deportees were said to have been returned to the country for drug offences, 10 were arrested and deported for criminal offences while others committed immigration offences.
According to Nigerian Immigration sources, who spoke to THISDAY tuesday, the deportees arrived the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, onboard a chartered aircraft with registration number GBB710 from Johannesburg, South Africa.
The deportees comprised 95 males and two females.
Those deported for drug and criminal offences were immediately handed over to the police for prosecution while those with civil cases were left to go home after screening by the officials of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) at the airport.
But as Nigerians were being deported to Nigeria from South Africa for alleged criminal and immigration offences, the National Assembly was condemning in strong terms the recent resurgence of xenophobic attacks against African migrants in the Southern African country, particularly Nigerians, who have lost properties valued at millions of dollars.
The federal lawmakers in both chambers of the National Assembly also resolved to send a delegation to South Africa to meet with the country’s parliament to agree on measures to stop the attacks.
At plenary yesterday, the Senate decried the resurgence of the xenophobic attacks and what it described as the extra-judicial killings of Nigerians by both the South African police and South Africans.
The Senate also advised the federal government to reconsider Nigeria’s diplomatic ties with South Africa with a view to averting the recurrence of the xenophobic attacks and extra-judicial killings of Nigerians in South Africa.
It also resolved to send a delegation to South Africa to engage their fellow parliamentarians on the matter.
Moving a motion on the issue, Senator Rose Oko (Cross River North) expressed concern over recurring xenophobic attacks and extra-judicial killings of Nigerians in South Africa.
She said on February 18, South Africans attacked and looted businesses belonging to Nigerians in Pretoria, pointing out that the acts violated Article 5 of the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which provides that “no one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”.
She also recalled that in 2016, 20 Nigerians were killed under similar circumstances over allegations of drug trafficking without recourse to legal processes and the principle of fair hearing.
But while appearing before the joint National Assembly Committee on Foreign Affairs yesterday, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Khadijat Abbah Ibrahim, denied claims that Nigerians were killed in the recent wave of attacks.
According to her, available information showed that there was no record that any life was lost in the recent xenophobic attacks which began on February 18.
But the chairman of the joint committee, Senator Monsurat Sunmonu, said henceforth attacks on Nigerians in South Africa would be handled on a “tit for tat basis”.
She said if the attacks continued, South Africans and the country’s businesses should be prepared for reprisals in Nigeria, insisting that their firms would also suffer similar attacks being meted to Nigerian businesses in South Africa.
Also, the House of Representatives constituted a delegation yesterday to meet with the South African parliament over the recent xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and their businesses in Pretoria.
The delegation will be led by Majority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila.
Gbajabimaila and five other members, including the Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Hon. Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, are expected to interface with the South African parliament on how to stop further attacks on Nigerians in the country.
The House last week condemned the recurring attacks on Nigerians living in South Africa, despite Nigeria’s contribution to the liberation of the country from apartheid.
Ukeje had suggested an inter-parliamentary interface, stating that legislators are the closest arm of government to the citizens and would be able to assist with the reorientation of their citizens on the role played by Nigerians in the liberation of South Africa.
Other members of the delegation are Hon. Sadiq Ibrahim (Adamawa APC), Hon. Henry Nwawuba (Imo PDP), Hon. Nasiru Zango Daura (Katsina APC) and Hon. Shehu Aliyu Musa (Bauchi APC).