Nigerians, under the aegis of Advocates for Collective Transformation and Youth Empowerment Initiative, on Tuesday took the protest against attacks on Nigerians in South Africa to the country’s Embassy on Molade Okoya Thomas Street, Victoria Island, Lagos State.
The protesters, who were mostly youths, occupied the frontage of the embassy, singing solidarity songs.
Expressing their displeasure at the destruction and looting of business ventures owned by Nigerians in South Africa, they called on the Federal Government to shut down the South African high commission offices in the country.
They also demanded that the government suspended the South African ambassador to Nigeria and other officials until the safety of Nigerians in South Africa could be guaranteed.
Some persons, believed to be officials of the embassy, observed the protest from the barred gate of the embassy and took some photos.
They did not address the protesters for the 30 minutes that the demonstration lasted.
Two executive members, Ayodele Samuel and Ifetoluwa Ajayi, who spoke on behalf of the protesters, said the Federal Government had not shown enough concern about the incident, which made them to embark on the protest.
Samuel, who is the group’s media coordinator, also represented the National President, Olutayo Asogbon.
He said, “The message is simple. We want the Federal Government to close all South African diplomatic offices in Nigeria. We also want the government to declare South African ambassador to Nigeria and other officials persona non grata. We don’t want them on our soil until the safety of Nigerians in South Africa is guaranteed.”
Samuel further demanded that the South African government analysed videos of the attacks, fish out the perpetrators and prosecute them.
He, however, lamented that the government was not committed to bringing the assailants to book.
“The South African high commissioners are not doing enough. They should take the message of peace they enjoy in Nigeria to their country. They should tell their people that South Africans are running businesses in Nigeria peacefully and ask them to stop attacking Nigerians and other immigrants.
“We are calling on President Jacob Zuma to take responsibility. These attackers can be identified. Videos we see online show that these people can be identified and arrested. But the South African government has refused to do this. If police round them up today, after a month or two, they are let off the hook. There is no proper justice. Nigerians, whose businesses are being destroyed, are not compensated. If we are making Nigeria peaceful for South Africans to run businesses on our soil, they too should reciprocate and make South Africa peaceful and conducive for Nigerians,” he added.
Ajayi, the General Secretary of the association, stated that the xenophobic attacks had not only claimed lives of Nigerians, but had also traumatised immigrants in South Africa.
He said, “The government represents a father. If a father sees his child being murdered in cold blood, it is his responsibility to speak. The Federal Government has not spoken; that is why we are speaking. The South Africa needs to be told that we have a country that feeds its citizens. If we don’t feed them, they won’t have all their businesses surviving here.
“So much money is leaving the shores of Nigeria to South Africa; the South Africans should care about where they feed. Presently, we have a record of two Nigerians killed. In Pretoria, Nigerians can’t go out again.”
Source – The Punch