By Bianca Iboma
Following recent xenophobic attacks on Nigerians resident in South Africa, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama and his Interior Ministry counterpart, Abdulrahman Dambazau visited the country to discuss the problem with the government. Even with such diplomatic efforts, another case of attacks on Nigerians was reported. Two weeks ago, Nigerian students in India were attacked by Indian youth gangs. Nigerians express their views on how the government should tackle the ill-treatment of Nigerians in the Diaspora.
FG should carry out country-specific studies –Prof. Peter Okebukola, former NUC Secretary
It is erroneous to think that the Nigerian government has been tepid in responding to xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in different parts of the world. There are at least two approaches to tackling the challenge: one is diplomatic and the other is hostile reprisal.
History has confirmed that hostile reprisal is a double-edged sword, which hikes the problem rather than causes it to abate. History has also confirmed that countries that elect for the hostile reprisal have military muscle (such as the United States of America or the Russian Federation) to tackle the oppressive country.
An attack on United States citizens in Nigeria can see a battalion of US Special Forces arrive in at short notice. In Nigeria’s case, we are deficient in military might to engage countries that are hostile to our citizens. The better option in this case is diplomacy and the Nigerian government has activated the mechanism for a diplomatic solution.
This will definitely yield results. The South African government is now better sensitised that the Nigerian government frowns at the weak intervention of the South African police when Nigerians are being attacked.
Early warning is clearly a good pathway so that pre-emptive action can be taken before things get out of hand. I am not sure of what is meant by fair trial because many countries where Nigerians export illicit drugs sing it to high heavens that the penalty for drug offences is death. The Nigerians caught in the trade were aware and still proceeded with the business regardless. I believe that efforts are made to ensure fair trials. There needs to be an in-depth study of the problem on a country-by-country basis by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I suspect a general study would have been conducted in the past by the ministry. We now need country-specific studies, which will reveal why Nigerians are being target and how such hatred can be prevented. We should be objective in our assessment since my travels over the years show that many Nigerians are very poorly behaved and are piece of nuisance to host countries on account of their bad behaviours. The findings of the study should guide government in taking action to prevent future recurrence.
Leadership is our problem
–Edwin Darek Obed, Nigerian resident in Spain
Nigeria is one nation that has neglected its citizens in the Diaspora. At times, Nigerians abroad feel ashamed to say they are Nigerians due to their experience and way our leaders respond to their matters. The attitude of embassy staff toward Nigerians is such that they usually appear mean in the eyes of foreign authorities. The challenge Nigerians have is leadership.
Nigerian Embassy workers receive bribe to sign certificates to deport Nigerians. The Nigerian government has not been able to play its diplomatic role effectively. Most of the killings are unjust, our government doesn’t act strongly and are not decisive when it comes to the plight of its citizens. For example, Britain have, on several occasions, negotiated and secured the release of its citizens, who had been condemned to death and ready for execution. Whenever there are legal cases involving drugs or other related crimes, the Nigerian government acts slowly, indecisive and does not take a definitive measure to protect its citizens as required by law. Nigerians are not the only foreigners who engage in crime. I am not saying Nigerians should be encouraged to get involve in crime but when it happens, what is the role of government in protecting and defending the citizens? If the world power protects their citizens from facing harsh laws or capital punishment, why can’t Nigerian government do same for its citizens?
Apart from drug related cases that have claimed the life of Nigerians in Diaspora, there had been several unjust killings, and inhuman act against Nigerians. Nigerians have been robbed of their vital organs such as kidneys while on medical tourism. In some instances, they are taken to makeshift hospitals where their kidneys are removed without their consent. Victims usually discover their kidneys have been removed only after they have left the hospital. And that is because they are usually drugged so they can’t really identify the place or the culprits.
In some other cases, Nigerians (students) had been pushed to their death from elevated buildings. The hostility to Nigerian students abroad is really shocking. Yet the Nigerian government had not really looked into such issues with the seriousness it deserves.
The way legal cases involving Nigerians are handled is really not fair. I have seen situations where Nigerians and citizens of other countries had been scheduled for execution but following the timely intervention of the other countries, the execution of their citizens would be halted and negotiation process would begin.
On the recent attacks on Nigerians by South Africans, the media too has its share of blame because it has not really enlightened the citizens on their history and responsibilities to fellow Africans.
The image of Nigeria has been tarnished because there is this erroneous impression that every Nigerian is a criminal and therefore, don’t deserve to be treated with respect and kindness.
FG must confront the problem with toughness –Dr. Cecilia Njoku, educationist
There have been series of attacks recorded cases of how Nigerians have been brutalised by foreigners. The truth is that it is becoming worrisome as Nigerians are no longer safe in other countries.
An incident occur without verification, they had to unleash terror on Nigerians in India. There was no link that shows Nigerian students were involved in the crime before the Indian mob attacked them.
Why this series of attack on Nigerians? This is hatred because how can you unleash terror on them at the slightest of opportunity? An incident had taken place why not investigate and find out what happened. There is no evidence yet that Nigerians were accused.
The Nigerian government should move from just making calls to foreign authorities over such issues to a more confronting measure that can put a stop on this attack. I don’t understand why a fair and impartial investigation should not be carried out. This violence is too much on Nigerians.
As a nation, let us decry the violence, Nigerian government should do more in protecting Nigerians in the Diaspora. Why are Indians fuelling racism? Have they forgotten that Indians too live in Nigeria?
On allegations that Nigerians are engaged in crime; everyone knows that criminal activities increase whenever there is an influx of people into any town or city, especially, a settlement area. This, however, is not a proof that the foreigners are responsible for the crimes committed in the area(s) as the host citizens may also use the opportunity to carry out some heinous crimes while painting the visitors as being bad. South Africans already have this notion about Nigerians that they engaged in crime.
Also, South African media is owned by powerful interests groups who are sponsoring the xenophobic agenda against Nigerians. The xenophobic attacks being unleashed on Nigerians may have been fuelled by these powerful groups backing the South African media. A strategic plan and deeper protection is required to keep them safe as well as stop the series of attacks.
Personally, I think the meeting between Nigerian ministers and the South African government would yield results only if our government would commit the South African government an agreement to curtail the xenophobic attacks. The South African government had not really done much to end the violent attacks. If strict conditions are not given to them, the attacks would not stop. We have to cripple their defence. Nigerians in the Diaspora must be protected. The first step has been taken since the two governments had deliberated on the problem. The early warning system would be able to track and deter upsurge in violent attacks on Nigerians. The measures taken so far by the two governments should be able to keep the youth gangs in check.
FG owes a duty to protect Nigerians –Ifeanyi Nnaemeka, businessman
The Nigerian government is so silent when it comes to the executions of Nigerians in the Diaspora, especially those involved in drug offences. I heard about a particular case involving a promising young Nigerian who was executed in a South Eastern Asian country. Fourteen other persons from other countries were equally scheduled to be executed but theirs was halted. Why? It was because their government acted on their behalf.
Personally, I am not in support of crime and criminal activities. In as much as I advise Nigerians to desist from such acts, it must be recognized that life is involved. What are our ambassadors in those countries where Nigerians are being executed doing? There is a reason the Federal Government sent them there. They should explore diplomatic relations to deal with issues affecting Nigerians in their domain. If other governments can defend their citizens, why can’t ours do same? Nigerians are not the only ones who engage in crime abroad but they seem to be the ones who pay the price. For example, the plight of Nigerians in Libya. What diplomatic secrets do other countries have that Nigerian government needs to learn. The Federal Government needs to find out from its ambassadors how the missions relate with and protect Nigerians.
South Africans ‘cook’ stories to portray Nigerians as bad –Reuben Enakuriefe, businessman
Ill-treatment of Africans living abroad started a long time ago. It is estimated that the Arabs enslaved 18 million blacks. It still happens especially in countries like Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Mauritania.
The Federal Government needs to act to stop the attacks. In Libya, an African nation, there had been reports of the killing of blacks, especially Nigerians. Nigerians are killed in droves. Unfortunately, foreign powers had been so silent about it. Even with the publicity given to the reported killings of black Africans in that country, rebel soldiers are still killing them.
In South Africa, Nigerians and other Africans are victims of extra-judicial killings by the police. According to a friend, South African police are very brutal. The police do join in the xenophobic attacks. They even use apartheid style of torture. If they are accusing Nigerians of taking their jobs and marrying their women, the question is: is there a place one goes to that he would not get a means of livelihood? They are just being jealous of the successes recorded by Nigerians. They cook stories to portray Nigerians as bad. They accuse Nigerians of drug-trafficking, but in a sane society, is it is the duty of law enforcement agencies to arrest and prosecute offenders. Why should South Africa youths attack foreigners, particularly their fellow Africans? This is not right, after all South Africans have businesses in Nigeria and other African countries.
Our government is weak
–Ewoma Emmanuel, Student
Nigerians need to be protected especially in countries that are hostile to us. Nigerian embassies should put in place powerful defence mechanism. Thorough investigations should be carried out before our embassy officials give a nod to allegations made against our citizens.
It is not always true that Nigerians in the Diaspora engage in crime, at least there are Nigerians who do legitimate business. Why are Nigerians being murdered? If you check the records, you will find out that Nigerian students, professionals and businessmen have been killed in foreign countries.
Nigerians do business in countries of the world, including Benin Republic, Ghana, Gabon, Singapore, China, India and Malaysia among others. I have read various reports showing these extra-judicial killings in Libya, Morocco and Somalia.
Sadly, when all the killings take place, our government is weak in tackling such problems. The government dilly-dallies so much in attempt to act. This is a challenge on its own. Meanwhile, Nigerians keep wailing over the unending torment they face abroad. They have been wrongfully accused, arrested, and jailed under unlawful legal processes. Yet, there are foreigners who had lived here (Nigeria) for several years, going about their businesses without xenophobic attacks being unleashed on them.
Protection of Nigerians should be priority of our embassies -Henrietta Rex –Student
Xenophobic attacks and extra-judicial killings of Nigerians living abroad should stop. Nigerian Embassy in Diaspora should always come out to defend and protect the rights of Nigerians. This should be their priority. There has been so much wickedness against Nigerians. Sometime in 2014, I was filled with tears after I watched an ace sports broadcaster, Aisha Falode on TV wailing over the death of her son, Toba. The boy was not sick, he was murdered in the United Arab Emirate. According to Aisha, Toba was pushed off the balcony of the 17th floor of a building by a son of an Arab billionaire over an argument.
At the time, Toba was a student of Audio Production at the SAE Institute in the UAE. I don’t know how that case ended but I want to say that a lot of Nigerian students had been equally murdered and without trace. Sometimes, after the act had been committed, they would allege they were criminals as the law enforcement officers try a cover up. How and when can Nigerians get justice?
Perhaps, I should draw attention to another Nigerian, Damilola who was murdered in questionable circumstances the in UK. Again, one Gabriel Soriwei was killed in Cyprus by a female who was drunk but she was shielded despite her crime. I thought the death of Soriwei would mark the end of the killings of Nigerians but there are still several records of Nigerian students being murdered in questionable circumstances.
The killing of Nigerian student has happened in Malaysia, Ghana, Dubai, South Africa and Cyprus among others. These are not drug related matters. How can the Federal Government defend the rights of Nigerian students abroad is something of utmost importance.