SWITZERLAND, SEPTEMBER 18 – The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, has said the Federal government won’t table the issue of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa at the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, United States of America.
This is even as the minister said avenues are currently being explored to secure compensation for Nigerians whose businesses were attacked in South Africa.
Onyeama who spoke ahead of Nigeria’s participation in the 74th UNGA, said the issue of migration will be discussed in the context of the United Nations Compact on Migration.
Onyeama noted that migration is a global issue, adding that with regard to South Africa, the United Nations was not a forum to sort out the crisis that had just happened in South Africa.
“We haven’t got to that stage yet. And I don’t think it is necessary. I think it is something we can sort out ourselves. We have that capacity and belief to do that,” Onyeama said.
On the issue of compensating Nigerians whose businesses were attacked in South Africa, Onyeama said what President Cyril Ramaphosa’s envoy to President Buhari said was that South African laws required all businesses to be insured against various things, including things like riot and others.
“So, if you suffer looting and damage, in their argument, that it should be covered under the insurance that you should have taken out because the law requires you to take that insurance out and that it is not the government that will insure you because the insurance companies are there to insure you and that if you don’t have that insurance, you are actually in breach of their laws,” Onyeama said.
Onyeama, however, said that the Federal government was looking for other means and argument to secure compensation for those who lost property.
“We are looking at the South Africa-Nigeria business agreement. It is actually expired at the moment, but it still protects those businesses that were established before the period of the agreement between Nigeria and South Africa. And within that, it is envisaged that there will be compensation for businesses or investors. It is actually an investor- protection agreement between the two countries.
“So, we have to look at that also to see to what extent that covers the situation we have at the moment. And also, and most importantly, is that Mr President will be going to South Africa on October 3. There is a bi-national commission between South Africa and Nigeria. It has been agreed that this commission will now be at the level of the heads of state.
“So, it will be the only bi-national agreement this country has at the level of heads of state. And within the framework of this bi-national commission, we will go there to discuss all issues of importance to both countries and also signed various agreements,” Onyeama added.
Onyeama further said the Nigerian High Commission in South Africa and the Consulate General had been directed to compile all the losses suffered by Nigerians, the details of all Nigerians killed throughout the period of xenophobic attacks.
“We are reliably informed that no Nigerian was killed during this last crisis, but of course in the past, and to give us all the details. We are compiling all the detail information with regard to Nigerians in South Africa, including also, the criminal elements, the acts of criminality being caused by Nigerians – drug trafficking, human trafficking and the killing of a lot of Nigerians in South Africa by Nigerians which apparently is actually that the majority of Nigerians being killed in South Africa, we are informed, are actually by Nigerians.
“We are going to look at all that and we will raise with the South Africans, all these issues and agree on a mechanism to address all of them,” Onyeama stated.