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Deportation of 125 Nigerians from South Africa is xenophobic – Nigerian envoy

Channels Television  
Updated March 6, 2012

The deportation of 125 Nigerian by immigration officials in South Africa has being described as xenophobic attack on Nigerians as the nation warn of reciprocatory actions.

This was made known today by Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Olugbenga Ashiru at his presentation before the House of Representative committee on diaspora over the seemingly diplomatic row between the two largest economies in Africa.

125 Nigerians were refused entry into the South Africa last Thursday by immigration officers in Johannesburg over the possession of fake Yellow card. The passengers were subsequently deported.

According to the Nigerian envoy,   “The underlining problem is the attitude of the ordinary South-Africans to Nigerians.” “They have a xenophobic attitude towards Nigerians” he emphasized.

He made this known while responding to the question by chairperson of the House committee on Foreign Affairs, Nnenna Ukeje, on whether the recent face-off between Nigerian and South Africa over the recognition of the National Transitional Ruling Council (NTC) in Libya, was a factor to the diplomatic crisis.

Nigeria was amongst the first nations to recognize the NTC during the Libyan uprising that led to the fall of former Libyan leader, Mummar Gaddafi. South Africa declined to recognize the NTC.

Mr Ashiru, however resorted that “the issue of NTC is not the problem that gave rise to this deportation that we were faced with last week” as he emphasized more on the xenophobic attacks by South Africa.

South Africa has always being in the news for xenophobic attacks on foreigners working in the country. A number of Zimbabweans and Nigerians were amongst those attacked in the xenophobic attacks in 2009.

The Minister gave a note of warning to all African countries on the mal-treatment of Nigerians, stating that “African countries including South Africa, should not take Nigeria’s maturity and the friendliness of our people to foreigners for granted.”

“And also they should not take the friendly business environment we have in Nigeria where companies, including South African companies are making more profit in South Africa for granted” he added.

He further warned that henceforth the Nigerian government will be taking appropriate actions if any of its citizens is deported on fragile excuses. “When you deport two Nigerians from your country on flimsy excuses, there will be appropriate reaction” he said.

The envoy, who has once served as Nigeria’s envoy to South Africa, noted that actions that will be taking over the yellow card controversy with South Africa will be ‘reciprocating’ and ‘not retaliating.’ “It may not be retaliation, but you (the country in question) will know that we are reciprocating, one way or the other” he said.