Hon Marshal Isreal: Federal Public Complaints commissioner , Rivers State
In recent times, Nigerians in South Africa have been killed, maimed, humiliated, arrested and detained on frivolous charges. It is painful and annoying, and I think it’s time for some of us to speak out against this mindless attacks and killing of Nigerians in South Africa. The South African security agencies have decided to collude and connive with the young South Africans to attack and kill Nigerians in South Africa. If a Nigerian commits crime over there, the law should take it’s course. So, I’m not defending nor supporting crime.
I watched a video on social media where a Nigerian was beaten like an animal and later set ablaze in South Africa. Thereafter, his shop was looted and his properties either shared or destroyed. They did it jubilantly and recorded the occasion themselves. They didn’t say he was a criminal and no offense was levied against him. I have also seen videos and reports of Nigerians being molested and thrown into jail or possibly killed by the South African Police. As you read this write up, thousands of Nigerians are languishing and gnashing their teeth in South African prisons and jail cells on phantom charges. I know they are attacking other Africans but that of Nigerians is becoming a reoccurring decimal.
It is on record that despite the killing of Nigerians in South Africa, South African business interests and facilities in Nigeria are still protected by the Nigerian Government and no South African in Nigeria have been attacked nor molested in retaliation against the barbaric Killing and molestation of Nigerians in South Africa even though Nigerians have the capacity to retaliate disproportionately.
Few months ago, the South African Military Ombudsman organized a Symposium and invited me but I declined. They did another program again and invited me and I declined again after buying my flight ticket. I had a second thought because as a Federal Commissioner in the Public Complaints Commission (NIGERIAN Ombudsman), I will address the issue of xenophobia in South Africa if given the opportunity to speak at the program. Maybe, I would be attacked and possibly killed. In view of the silence and docility of the South African Government over xenophobia, I decided not to attend those programs.
It’s however unfortunate, inglorious and incurably bad that the South Africans have forgotten so quickly the role Nigerians played during Aparthied. Many African Countries especially Nigeria stood behind South Africa financially and otherwise. Nigerian leaders, students and activists held protest and marches in Lagos, Portharcourt and other major cities against the detention of Nelson Mandela and other leaders of the ANC. We sang the “Free Mandela Song” everyday in Primary and Secondary School. The moral and financial support was enormous. The present generation of South Africans May not be fully aware that Nigeria contributed immensely to the freedom they are enjoying today. During the period of Aparthied, some ANC leaders ran to Nigeria and were protected and supported tremendously.
If Africans should cry of intimidation, discrimination and oppression in Europe, America and Asia, should they also cry of intimidation and oppression in South Africa… a supposed home? South Africa is supposed to serve as the Europe of Africa and a bastion of democracy and human Rights. But what we are seeing today in South Africa is not the dream of Mandiba, Albert Litulu, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu etc. These were men who selflessly fought for the unification of Africa.
I think it’s time for the Nigerian Government to send a strong signal to South Africa by recalling the Nigerian Ambassador to South Africa and summon the South African Ambassador to Nigeria for questioning. It’s time for Nigeria to review her diplomatic relationship with South Africa. The President, Ministry Of Foreign Affairs and The National Assembly must rise up and show capacity by protecting Nigerians in South Africa.
No Country can take this humiliation against her citizens. It’s becoming a crime to live in South Africa as a Nigerian. If they don’t want Nigerians to live peacefully in South Africa, it would have been better to inform Nigerians to leave than to maim and kill them like rabbits. The African Union and Ecowas should not watch this Xenophobic attack against fellow Africans in South Africa. Maybe they are waiting for the Nigerian Government to respond.
I cherish the discipline of youths who have remained calm and peaceful despite the killings of Nigerians in South Africa but there is a limit to what the heart can bear. Therefore, It’s incumbent and expedient for the Nigerian Government to act now to avoid a reprisal237