Following a report on the killing of South African-based Nigerian, 42-year-old Chibuzo Nwankwo, Falana says the number of deaths now stands at 121 in the last 18 months.
A few days after another Nigerian was killed in South Africa, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has put the total number of Nigerians so far killed in South Africa at 121 in one and half years.
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The lawyer accused the governments of Nigeria and South Africa of deliberately refusing to put a stop to the xenophobic attacks unleashed on immigrants from African countries by the people of South Africa.
Speaking yesterday, following a report from the Nigerian community in South Africa on the killing of a 42-year-old Nigerian, Mr. Chibuzo Nwankwo, from Enugu State, Falana said the number of deaths now stands at 121 in the last 18 months.
Said he: “It is curious to note that in spite of the leadership roles of both Nigeria and South Africa in the African continent, the governments of both countries have deliberately refused to accept the jurisdictional competence of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights by making a declaration in line with article 34 (6) of the Protocol for the Establishment of the Court. Thus, by refusing to make the declaration, both countries have made it impossible for their nationals, whose human rights have been violated by state actors, to seek legal redress in the African Court on Human and People’s Rights sitting in Arusha, Tanzania. As if that is not enough, the government of South Africa has virtually concluded plans to withdraw from the International Criminal Court by revoking the ratification of the Rome Statute, which was authorised by President Nelson Mandela on July 17, 1998.
“On its own part, the government of Nigeria has not gone beyond the regular condemnation of the brutal killings. Up till now, the government has not deemed it fit to take bold diplomatic measures to guarantee the security of the life and property of every Nigerian citizen living in South Africa. The Federal Government has not even assisted the victims of xenophobic attacks and relatives of those who have been hacked to death or demand for the payment of aggravated damages and prosecution of the culprits who are well known to the police authorities in South Africa.
“However, the lackadaisical attitude of the Nigerian government to the brutalisation of Nigerian immigrants in South Africa is not surprising, in view of the impotence of the state to curb the incessant killing of innocent citizens at home by terrorists, herders, armed robbers, kidnappers and other bandits.”
Falana urged President Muhammadu Buhari to seize the opportunity of the election of Nigerian born lawyer, Mrs. Stella Anukam, as a judge of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights, to immediately make a declaration to facilitate access to the African Court without further delay.
He said: “With the recent election of a Nigerian lawyer, Mrs. Stella Anukam, as a justice of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights, it is hoped that the Muhammadu Buhari administration will stop exposing Nigeria to ridicule by making the declaration to facilitate access to the African Court without any further delay. Otherwise, the Federal Government will soon be embarrassed by some local and regional non-governmental organisations that have threatened to kick against the constitution of the African Court by judges from Nigeria and other member states of the African Union that have failed to recognise the jurisdiction of the court.
“In order to stop the reckless killing of Nigerians in South Africa, the Federal Government should put pressure the Ramphosa administration to bring all culprits to book forthwith and compensate the bereaved families of Nigerians that have been killed in South Africa due to official negligence impunity on the part of the government. We are, therefore, compelled to call on the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights to conduct an enquiry into the killings of African immigrants in South Africa and make appropriate recommendations to the African Union.”
He charged the Federal Government to demand a firm commitment from the government of South Africa on the protection of the life of every African immigrant, in strict compliance with Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, which provides: “Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right.”