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FG not planning to severe diplomatic ties with South Africa, says Onyeama

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[FILE PHOTO] Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama. PHOTO: TWITTER/ GEOFFREY ONYEAMA


Senate Cautions Nigerians Against Reprisal
The Federal Government has denied any plan to call off its diplomatic relations with South Africa over the recent attacks on its citizens in that country.The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, gave the indication yesterday after deliberating with the Senate Committee on Diaspora, Civil society and Non-Governmental Organisations in Abuja.

The committee had invited the minister to brief them on behalf of the Senate about the xenophobic attacks in South Africa.Speaking with the committee, Onyama said: “No, we are not thinking to the state of diplomatic ties call off. There are various options. We are not by any means at the state where we are breaking diplomatic relations with South Africa.”He stressed that there were different actions to be taken at the diplomatic level but surely not to severe diplomatic ties.

“We want our decision and Mr. President’s decision to be an informed decision after assessing all the facts and of course, the way the South African government itself reacts and what they say will be very important in helping us to decide what we want to do.

“We will look through all the possible options; we will analyse the causes and agree on a roadmap going forward. Part of that roadmap is that from the executive side the President has dispatched a special envoy to South Africa who will be holding discussions with the South African government at a very high level. He should be back tomorrow and that will now give the government the basis to take further action,” Onyeama added.

He said the Nigerian Government was very much on top of the situation, adding that they were sure that no Nigerian’s life has been lost.“We have our envoy. We have a Consul General there who is engaging with the Nigerian Union in South Africa. So, the facts are coming out from them. “We have a Nigerian union in South Africa and they are pretty much in touch with Nigerians who are living in South Africa and all the facts available indicate that no Nigerian life was lost.”He, however, said there would be adequate compensation for properties that have been lost and damaged.

“This is important because the South African government is saying that there is no provision for them legally to provide compensation; that they will have to resort to other insurance companies or other private arrangements.“We are going to challenge that because we believe in the past no compensation was paid. So, for us, it is something we feel that we have to insist upon.

“We are determined that the crises does not reoccur; it has been happening for far too long. It has become almost endemic. So, with the distinguished senators, we were looking at some of the options that we have to ensure that this would be the last time that we would ever be meeting to talk about Nigerians being attacked in South Africa.

“It will not be appropriate to put in the public domain appropriate actions that have to be taken. Those are options and those options will be contingent and dependent on other things happening. We do not want to deal with hypothetical cases. We want to deal with the facts as they develop,” he said.

Chairman of the committee, Senator Surajudeen Ajibola Bashiru, on his part, appealed to Nigerians not to take laws into their hands. “We need to exercise restraint as Nigeria is a leader in Africa. As a country we must also show that we are responsible as two wrongs can never make a right so we appeal to Nigerians to remain calm,” he said. He said they actually called the meeting with the minister and his team to brief the committee on behalf of the Nigerian senate on the incidence in South Africa.

“The minister briefed us as to the background of the xenophobic attacks in the past, the action that was taken in the past and the solutions to the current attacks. We were also given an assessment of what has transpired in the recent attacks and one of the highlights was the assessment of the extent of damage to lives and property,” he noted.


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