The Federal Government said it will on Wednesday start repatriating Nigerians from South Africa after a wave of xenophobic violence.
President Muhammadu Buhari had given instruction for the immediate voluntary evacuation of all Nigerians who were willing to return home.
Nigeria’s Consul General Godwin Adamu said in Johannesburg yesterday that Nigerian airline “Air Peace is beginning the airlift by Wednesday, the first flight with 320 Nigerians. We will have another one immediately after that.”
President Buhari gave the instruction after receiving a report from his Special Envoy to South Africa, Amb Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
President Buhari, according to a statement issued yesterday by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Femi Adesina, took note of the report and instructed the Minister of Foreign Affairs to continue to engage with appropriate authorities on the concrete measure the South African government was expected to take.
President Buhari stressed the need for South African Government to take visible measures to stop violence against citizens of brotherly African nations.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Abike Dabiri, said the government would not provide financial assistance to those leaving South Africa.
Speaking to journalists in Abuja, after an interactive session with Chairman of Senate Committee on Diaspora and Non-governmental Organisations, Senator Surajudeen Ajibola Basiru, she said those to be airlifted would be captured in the Federal government’s social investment programme.
Dabiri-Erewa also assured that the federal government would continue to press for compensation to be paid by South Africa to Nigerians whose properties and businesses were affected by the recent attacks.
President’s evacuation order, right decision – Experts
A former permanent secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Bulus Lolo, said though Nigerians in South Africa were not sent there by the government, it has acted responsibly by ordering their evacuation amid xenophobic attacks.
“The responsibility of every government is to guarantee the safety of its citizens anywhere in the world. The federal government has acted in a responsible way by taking such a decision to evacuate Nigerians from South Africa,” the retired diplomat said.
He said the onus is on Nigerians in South Africa to respond to the call of the government, noting that the risk of staying there is greater with the recent wave of attacks on foreign nationals.
Meanwhile, some South African businesses have been caught in the crossfire of the raging xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
There are reports that some businesses belonging to South Africans had been looted during the attacks.
A South African singer, Yvonne Chaka-Chaka, said on twitter that her daughter’s shop was targeted and looted during the ongoing violence against foreign nationals.
Similarly, News24 reported that a South African businessman Phillip Daserra’s spare-parts business in Malvern was caught in the crossfire on Sunday night.