Xenophobic attacks: Buhari hails Jonathan’s actions | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Xenophobic attacks: Buhari hails Jonathan’s actions

Posted: Apr 19, 2015 at 8:15 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Ejikeme Omenazu (Lagos) and Rotimi Akinwumi (Abuja

The President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, has commended the steps taken so far by the Federal Government to protect Nigerian citizens from the ongoing xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Saturday, Buhari said Nigeria’s Head of Mission in Pretoria had taken the right steps by advising the Nigerian community in South Africa to close their shops, stay home and keep out of trouble, while ensuring that they obey the laws of their host country.

“We equally understand that the South African government is making efforts to bring an end to this unfortunate situation,” Buhari said.

“In the meantime, Nigerians in South Africa should abide by the words of caution extended them by their government representative in Pretoria.”

Buhari also commended the Federal Government for its decision to monitor the situation in South Africa and evacuate its citizens at any sign of escalation.

He said: “I am happy to see that the Nigerian government is very well aware of its responsibilities to its citizens in South Africa.”

Buhari expressed sadness at the unfolding events in South Africa, recalling the long existing relationship between that country and Nigeria’s since the end of apartheid.

Also, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has lent its voice to the condemnation of the unwarranted attacks on immigrants in South Africa with the party describing the attacks “as provocative and completely unacceptable”.

PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, in a statement on Saturday said the attacks were “outrightly barbaric, primitive and cannot be justified under any guise whatsoever.”

The party said: “It is unfortunate and disheartening that South Africans, by this attitude, have shown that they are not appreciative of the roles played by Nigeria and other African countries in liberating their nation from the clutches of the obnoxious apartheid system.

“While we are aware that this unfortunate incident is a fallout of incendiary utterances by certain leaders in South Africa, we call on the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and South African government to take urgent practical steps to stem the tide and guarantee the safety of lives and property of Nigerians and other nationals targeted by the xenophobes.

“All well-meaning world leaders, especially Africans, should stand up and condemn this dangerous trend, which is a clear threat to the much desired unity, cooperativeness and development in the continent.

“We recall that this disgraceful act had taken place in recent time in the same country. As such, we charge South African leaders to do everything humanly possible to halt this wickedness and forestall a repeat in the future.

“Africans and indeed all citizens of the world must be allowed to visit, live or work in any part of the continent without fear of attack as long as they meet local statutory requirements of the country of their sojourn”.

While urging the Federal Government to take immediate action to ensure the safety of lives and property of Nigerians in South Africa, the PDP also called for calm and restraint at home even in the face of an obvious provocation that is capable of sparking off a reprisal.

It urged the Federal Government “should draw the attention of South Africa to the danger the actions of its citizens portend given the fact that the world has become a global village where political and economic interests have become universal”.

Meanwhile, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has condemned the killing of innocent African foreigners in South Africa, saying the government did not do enough to prevent the act.

ECOWAS Chairman and Ghanaian President, John Mahama, in a statement, challenged the South African government to act quickly and stop the increasing wave of attacks across the country.

He said it was so unfortunate that the very people, whose nations sacrificed to help South Africans fight, repel and defeat apartheid, were now today considered aliens and hacked to death in a barbaric manner.

Mahama said that South Africa government must protect the African foreigners and curb the crisis before it gets out of hand.

Two weeks ago South Africans began to attack and loot properties owned by fellow Africans, leading to several deaths.

Meanwhile, a group of 31 civil society organisations on Friday in Harare handed a petition to South African Deputy Ambassador, Andy Makwabe, demanding that South Africa “urgently ensure the full protection of all foreign nationals and their properties.”

They said the action had become necessary as thousands of refugees from Zimbabwe, Somalia, Congo and many other African nations had settled in South Africa, the continent’s second biggest economy.

A report said the violence had spread to the commercial capital, Johannesburg, where police on Friday tried to keep angry crowds in check with rubber bullets and teargas.

It said that the South Africans had blocked roads with rocks and burning tires in various parts of the city, ordering foreigners to leave the country.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has already spoken out against the violence.

He said that xenophobia could lead to hate crimes comparable to the worst that apartheid could offer.

President Jacob Zuma only publicly responded to the violence on Thursday, saying no amount of frustration or anger justified the attacks.

He said that the police had been directed to work around the clock to protect both foreign nationals and citizens and to arrest looters and those committing acts of violence.

South Africa has suffered various outbreaks of xenophobic violence in the past few years.

In 2008, more than 60 foreigners died in xenophobic attacks.