Nigeria has accepted the apology tendered by the South African government over the deportation of 125 Nigerians over fake yellow fever vaccination card.
However, the country is seeking the outright waiver of the yellow fever card requested at South African airports as the country is free of the disease.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Olugbenga Ashiru told journalists in Abuja that moving forward, a bi-national meeting will be convened very soon and the meeting will be headed by the Vice-Presidents of both countries.
He also hinted that Nigeria may demand a waiver of the yellow fever vaccination card at the meeting.
Mr Ashiru in an exclusive interview with Channels Television stated that, “South Africa is the only country in the world that demands such certification before allowing Nigerians into their country.” The World Health Organization has certified Nigeria free of yellow fever, which was last recorded in 1995.
The statement from the South African government earlier on Thursday, called for the revival of the bi-national commission between the two nations and re-opening the vaccination clinic at the Oliver Tambo international airport, Johannesburg “so that passengers without the yellow fever card can be quickly vaccinated upon arrival at the airport rather than to be deported” the statement read.
It also seeks an exchange of vaccine batch numbers and details between the health authorities of the two nations.
The statement also advised that when it comes to mass deportations, “senior officials at the department of international relations and cooperation including protocol should be consulted by immigration and health officials at the airport before undertaking such action.”
Reacting to the apology Mr Ashiru, stated that Nigeria has accepted the apology and added that “we will move quickly to ensure that we put machinery in place so that it will be a lasting solution, because we don’t want this to happen again because of our bilateral relations.”
“We felt it was un-African to have deported well over 125 Nigerians in a space of two days,” he added.
The Minister also confirmed that since the diplomatic row commenced, Nigeria has deported a total 131 South Africans as a retaliation measure.
Questionable and incomplete documents
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Immigration Service has said the recent entry denial to some South Africans is unrelated to the on-going row between Nigeria and that country despite federal government’s displeasure at the treatment of Nigerians in South Africa.
The spokesperson for the service, Mr. Joachim Olumba said “over ten thousand foreigners have either been denied entry into or repatriated from Nigeria since January 2012, and this included South Africans.”
Mr. Olumba affirmed that “no South African has been deported from Nigeria since the row began and those denied entry were all on grounds of questionable and incomplete documents.”
According to Mr. Olumba, “the ongoing row between both counties is no big deal” but he noted that “the practice of international relations is always based on the principle of reciprocity,” adding that that the Nigerian government is yet to take official action.