Adetutu Folasade-Koyi, Paulinus Aidoghie and Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The South African government has told victims of recent xenophobic attacks not to expect any form of compensation.
Dr. Naledi Pandor, Minister of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, said there was no provision for compensating those affected in the renewed attacks in the country.
In an interview with Reuters, Pandor said her country’s laws do not have provisions for such matters.
This is coming on the heels of officials of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration saying Nigeria would seek redress. Speaking in Abuja, Wednesday, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, insisted the Federal Government would press for compensation for the attacks and destruction of the businesses of Nigerians in South Africa.
The Federal Government had earlier demanded that Nigerians involved in the attacks should be recompensed.
“Full compensation has to be paid because, as we have discovered from previous experience, a lot of Nigerians lose their property and it is a long-drawn-out process and very often they are not compensated for it. But on this occasion, the Nigerian government is going to fight for full compensation and hold the government of South Africa to count,” the minister said at a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday.
Adetola Olubajo, president of the Nigerian Union in South Africa, said Nigerians lost property worth millions of dollars in the attacks.
The Federal Government has also said it was unaware the South African government shut down its missions in Nigeria. Onyeama said this while answering questions from State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
“We are not aware that the South African government has closed down its high commission here in Abuja or its consulate in Lagos.”
The government of South Africa, yesterday, said it shut down its high commission in Abuja and the consulate in Lagos indefinitely following threats against the mission’s staff, as well as the property of South Africa in Nigeria.
The South African acting high commissioner to Nigeria, Bobby Moroe, yesterday confirmed the closure of the country’s missions.
Moroe said the closure was sequel to a directive from his country’s government. The envoy said he had subsequently directed the Abuja and Lagos offices to suspend all consular activities until the situation improved.
The acting head of mission said the closure was necessitated by fear of attacks by some Nigerian youths.
The South African government had, in a statement by Pandor, announced the closure.
Pandor expressed disappointment over the decision to support the closure of the South African high commission and consulate.
She said both offices were closed following concerns reported to the minister by officials working in those places.
“After extensive consultations with relevant stakeholders as well as a security assessment of threats, the mission and the department took the decision to close the offices.
“At this point, there has been no direct physical threat to any of our diplomats and citizens.
“However, we view their safety as a priority and have thus taken the precautionary measure of closing while the situation remains somewhat unpredictable.’’
The minister expressed displeasure at misleading reports circulating on social media about a physical attack on the acting head of mission. She described the reports as totally false.
Pandor said tradition in foreign policy provided that diplomatic missions enjoyed protection from host countries but added that the department remained perturbed at threats directed at the mission.
“We are grateful to note that the security forces and the government of Nigeria are upholding this long-established practice of foreign policy,” she said.
She confirmed a directive to the mission that links be encouraged between the youth of South Africa and Nigeria and that the Nigerian students’ association visit South Africa.
In a related development, Onyeama has defended some governors and other Nigerians attending the World Economic Forum (WEF), despite the Federal Government’s withdrawal from the summit.
He explained that the governors and other individuals were already in South Africa before a decision was reached for Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who was to represent the country, to boycott the WEF due to the attacks.
He further explained that the WEF was an international function, which was not organised by South Africa.
The governors in South Africa include the chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, and Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State. Emir of Kano, Alhaji Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II, is also said to be in Cape Town.