Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Respite may soon come the way of Nigerians living in South Africa as efforts to sign an Early Warning Mechanism on the killing of Nigerians is ongoing between Nigeria and the South African government.
The agreement, when eventually signed, will focus on giving information to arms of government in South Africa of possible trouble areas in order to quickly nip the situation in the bud.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama disclosed the development to Daily Sun in Copenhagen, Denmark, on the sidelines of the Nordic-African Foreign Minister’s Meeting.
Onyeama said the immediate thing the government is planning to do is to get an agreement on an Early Warning Mechanism signed by both governments.
The federal government, he said, believed the agreement will go a long way to solving the targeted killing of Nigerians in South Africa.
The killing of Nigerians in South Africa has become a recurring problem in recent times, many blaming the atrocities on xenophobia.
According to unofficial reports, about 800,000 Nigerians, most of them youths, are said to reside in South Africa.
The killings range from gun shots to lynchings, with figures put at 118 since February 2016.
“The immediate thing we are planning to do is to get our agreement. We have an agreement for Early Warning Mechanism. We want to get it signed and put it in operation. I think that is the first thing and most immediate thing we have to do,” the Minister said.
“The Early Warning Mechanism, what it is essentially is, is that it is an agreement for setting arms of government and the Nigerian Union in South Africa to meet regularly and for the Nigerian Union in South Africa to use that forum of the Police Department, the Home Office and the Foreign Ministry, meeting regularly and being able to inform them early of where they see possible trouble brewing.”
Onyeama added: “And that will address the trust issues, the trust deficit between the Nigerian community and the police in South Africa at the moment.
“That seems to be a very important element in some of the killings that have taken place in the past.”
According to Onyeama, institutionalising the proposed Early Warning Mechanism “will go a long way, we believe, to having greater cooperation between the Nigerian Union in South Africa that represents the Nigerian Community in South Africa and the South Africa Police.”