Evacuation of Nigerians from South Africa
Evacuation of Nigerians from South Africa

Few days after the postponement of evacuation of Nigerians in South Africa due to non availability of travelling documents, Wednesday has been announced as a new day for the commencement of the evacuation exercise as gathered.

This offer to airlift Nigerians willing to return home after recent attacks on Nigerians and their businesses by South Africans was made by Air Peace.

While reacting to this new development, Prince Ben Okoli, president, Nigeria Citizens Association, South Africa (NICASA) disclosed that all efforts are geared towards evacuation of those who are ready to come back home.

Though he was unable to put figure to the number of affected Nigerians, Okoli however said the figure is in hundreds as many have lost their means of livelihood and nothing to fall back to.

The association, he said is however still pushing ahead for the demand of compensation as there are sufficient available to them that the attacks were premeditated and orchestrate.

He also noted that normalcy is gradually returning, there is no longer tension, or violence against any set of people. The violence and hostility have ceased.

“So many Nigerian have been affected by this and lots have been highly distressed and nothing to fall back to. So some of them affected have decided to call it quit to go back to Nigeria.

“Presently, we are collating the data of Nigerians that are to be evacuated back to Nigeria because the first batch will be leaving sometime early next week.

“Well we have it on a good record that they will be leaving on Wednesday.”

On compensation, he said that the South African Government has remained adamant, they have not acknowledge it as xenophobia. They continue to call it criminality and we do not understand why they continue to push the narrative of criminality since it is very obvious and plain and simple for even illustrates to understand that this is purely xenophobic.

So in the area of compensation, like their President had said that they are not going to give compensation but we are going to push for that because we have a good ground for compensation because these attacks against our people were uncalled for and totally unprovoked. We look at it as an attack that as something that was orchestrated, we are not actually pointing a figure at an individual or a group but of complicity. Those are the areas that our legal advisers are looking at.”

He maintained that the union was going to see the agitation for compensation to its logical conclusion as the people have worked very hard to establish themselves and suddenly, their hard work for sixteen to eighteen years destroyed overnight and that is something that is not acceptable to us as a community.”

On role of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s special envoy, Okoli said they have been able to boost the moral of the Nigerian community in going about their normal business without fear of molestation or attacks.

We have actually regained some strength knowing that our government is backing and supporting us, especially this time. So we are no longer afraid because we believe that so long we are doing the right thing and legal and food standing we have nothing to fear.

We want to thank President Buhari for the steps he has taken. The special envoy did cone to us and push the case of Nigerians. We are very grateful and that k him for what he has done so far.

He also commended the gesture of the Management of Air Peace for offering to airlift Nigerians back home.

Also an Abuja based lawyer, Dr. Kayode Ajulo has offered to provide legal services should his assistance be needed.

He said as a nation, this ugly incident must not be allowed to repeat itself again.

“The unfortunate xenophobic is a fallout of the calamity that befalls the third world, particularly the old colonies of colonial masters. I’ve said it before, we need to be compensated, for the pillage not only of our resources but our brains, knowledge, attitude, altitudes, culture and values. It’s why we hate ourselves, we attack and killed ourselves because we’ve being programs to such, anything African and black is abhor. Don’t you see the way some bleached their skins.

On a serious note Xenophobic attacks in South Africa stems from the standpoint of misplaced anger, hatred on the part of South Africans towards other Africans most especially Nigerians. It is sad and appalling that South Africans failed to advert their minds to their not too long history of apartheid for which Nigerian played a key role in ending.

“This unexpected behaviour cannot be justified in the face of unprovoked attacks that Nigerians received lately in the hands of their South African counterparts. These attacks must be condemned in its entirety because it is not reflective of the true spirit of Africa.

“This is selfish, non-Pan African and barbaric. The attacks are capable of having a spill-over effect on the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement which is in force between 27 African Union member states. Hostilities between the two biggest economies Africa are capable of causing this. Data at present has shown that South Africa is one of Nigeria’s top five export destinations as the country exported goods with total value of ¦ 325.5 billion within the period. Currently over $60 billion trade volume has been affected drastically within few days of the Xenophobic attack.

“We must not allow this to happen again.

“I urge the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN to immediately start legal action against the South Africa, predicated on Nigeria’s ratification of the protocol to the African charter on Human and People’s Rights on the establishment of and African Court on Human and Peoples’ Right which was signed on May 29, 2004.

“The mandate of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Right is to monitor respect for human rights on the African continent in line with the instruments. It is elementary principle of international law that a state is entitled to protect its subjects, when injured by acts contrary to international law committed by another state, from whom they have been unable to obtain diplomatic action or international judicial proceedings on behalf of its citizens.

“Thus the Federal Government must toll the path of law and order to protect the rights of Nigerian Citizens in South Africa affected by the Xenophobic attacks in order to get justice for the gruesome violation of their fundamental rights in South Africa.

“The court is empowered to hear cases brought against African states for failure to respect human rights. It is able to issue binding judgments in such cases and where violations are found, may award compensation and other remedies to victims.

“While it suffices to commend the court on its various decisions ranging from its declaration that the mass deportation of hundreds of Gambians workers by Angola was a violation of their rights to freedom of movement, liberty and right not to be treated in an inhuman and degrading way to its decision that the detention incommunicado without trial of at least 11 journalists by Eritrea was a violation of the journalists’ right to freedom of expression, right to liberty and fair trial, however, it is quiet sad that despite the well-considered decisions of the court, some member-states have refused to comply with the decisions of the court. Well I hope the reverse will be the case in the instance.

“I must also add that this’s a case that I’ll be available if my service is sought to do pro bono poblico.”

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