At a time tempers are still high over xenophobic attacks by South African nationals, 97 Nigerians have been deported from South Africa. The deportees comprise 95 males and two females.
This is coming on the heels of the Senate’s decision to dispatch a team to formally complain to the South African parliament over violent attacks on Nigerians living in the country.
The Nigerian deportees from South Africa landed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, on Monday night in a chartered aircraft with registration number GBB710 from Johannesburg.
DSP Joseph Alabi, spokesperson of the Lagos Airport Police Command, confirmed the arrival of the deportees from South Africa to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)
Sources revealed that six of the deportees had drug-related cases in South Africa, while 10 were arrested and deported for other criminal offences. The others were said to have committed immigration offences.
All the deportees were profiled by officials of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), while those deported for drug-related offences were handed over to the police for further investigation.
In another development, the Senate has resolved to formally protest to South Africa over increasing attacks on Nigerians living in the country.
Also, the Senate has rejected a call by some lawmakers for the Federal Government to cut diplomatic ties with South Africa over xenophobic attacks on Nigerians.
Senator Rose Oko from Cross River, alongside Tejuoso Olarenwaju, Ibrahim Kurfi and Obinna Ogba, had urged the Senate, in a motion entitled, ‘resurgence of xenophobic attacks and extra-judicial killings of Nigerians in South Africa,’ to compel the Federal Government to reconsider Nigeria’s diplomatic ties with South Africa if attacks on Nigerians do not stop.
When the motion was subjected to a voice vote, lawmakers rejected the plea. Instead, they resolved to send a delegation to the South African parliament to make a formal complaint on behalf of the Nigerian government.
President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, who presided over yesterday’s legislative business, noted while concluding the debate on the motion, that the Nigerian government could no longer fold its hands and allow its citizens to be killed.
He said Nigerian ambassadors posted to foreign missions would be given specific assignments to defend the dignity and rights of Nigerians living abroad, while promising to ensure that funding for foreign missions is increased.
The Senate President said: “I want to thank the mover of the motion and those that have contributed. This attack has become one too many. We must put a stop to these attacks. We must take the bull by the horn. That is why we have resolved to meet with the South African parliament.
“We must be seen to be defending the dignity of Nigerians abroad. We need to screen the ambassadorial nominees to ensure that they protect Nigerians abroad. Some foreign missions are poorly funded. On our own part, we must show commitment. I want to commend Nigerians who have shown restraints.”
Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, while making his remarks, said the Federal Government was not doing enough to protect Nigerians living in South Africa.
He said: “It appears that our brothers and sisters in South Africa have forgotten where they are coming from. South Africa suffered apartheid for many years. It took the intervention of Nigeria for them to get out of that.
“There was a time Nigerians did not need a visa to travel to the United Kingdom (UK). They started issuing visas to Nigerians when we imposed sanctions on UK, following the apartheid regime in South Africa. Till this day, we still need visas to go to the UK. This happened because of what we did for South Africa.
“I think Nigeria needs to take a position. Enough is enough. There was a time Nigerians accommodated South Africans and they only returned to their country when the apartheid regime ended. As a country, we gave them money and rendered other forms of assistance.
“I suggest that we send a strong delegation to the South African parliament to table our position. We cannot allow them to continue to attack our people and their businesses.”
Chairman, Senate committee on Foreign Affairs, Senator Monsurat Sunmonu, while making her contribution, told the Senate that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, had already been summoned by her committee, in conjunction with her colleague in the House of Representatives.
Senator Sunmonu said the outcome of their meeting with the minister would be communicated to the Senate next week.
Senate Chief Whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye, who recalled the pivotal role played by the Nigerian government during the apartheid regime, berated South Africans for maltreating Nigerians, despite the nation’s sacrifice.
“South Africans must be reminded that it was Nigeria that came to their rescue in their hour of need,” he said.
We played a role in liberating South Africans. It breaks my heart to see that having done so much for South Africa, they have turned around to be the one fighting Nigerians,” he said.