By Toby Prince
President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the voluntary evacuation of Nigerians in South Africa.
This directive follows his receipt of the report of the special envoy evaluating the attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.
He had sent a delegation led by Ahmed Abubakar, director-general of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), to convey a message of concern to Cyril Ramaphosa, president of South Africa.
The envoy was in Pretoria from September 5 to 7.
In a statement on Monday, Femi Adesina, special adviser to the president on media and publicity, said the envoy expressed the president’s concern about the intermittent violence against Nigerians and their business interests in South Africa.
He said the president instructed, Geoffrey Onyeama, minister of foreign affairs, to engage with appropriate authorities on the concrete measures the South African government is 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,” he said.
“President Buhari is worried that the recurring issue of xenophobia could negatively affect the image and standing of South Africa as one of the leading countries on the continent, if nothing is done to stop it.
“The Special Envoy conveyed the assurance of President Buhari that the Nigerian Government is ready and willing to collaborate with the South African Government to find a lasting solution to the involvement of few Nigerians in criminal activities, and to protect the lives and property of the larger groups of other law abiding Nigerians and indeed Africans in general, against all forms of attacks including xenophobia.
“President Buhari further assured that the Nigerian Government will guarantee the safety of lives, property and business interests of South Africans in Nigeria.”
According to the presidential spokesperson, Ramaphosa described the violent attacks as “disconcerting and embarrassing”.
“President Ramaphosa reaffirmed his stand against criminality and committed to do everything possible to protect the rights of every Nigerian and other foreign nationals in the country,” he added.