Nigerians, are known to have a resilient spirit , capable of overcoming difficult situations. In their bid to eke a living, some of them, especially youths, leave the shores of the country, for greener pastures, overseas.
Unfortunately, not everyone who bid their families goodbye, with promises to better their conditions when they get to their destinations, lived to give testimonies of their adventures oversees, owing to the hostilities in their host countries.
It is no longer news that some Nigerians have been maltreated or even killed for no just cause in their host countries. Some of them were students, artisans , domestic workers , businessmen and women. While some cases were in public glare, others were never reported.
The latest of such killings was that of the Deputy Director General of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN), Mrs. Elizabeth Ndubuisi Chukwu.
The 53-year-old mother of two, who left the country without an inkling that would be the last time she would see her loved ones , lodged at the Emperor’s Palace Hotel & Convention Centre, in Johannesburg. She was not there for frivolities but to attend the conference of the African Insurance organization , AIO.
She left Nigeria hale and hearty and attended the farewell dinner on June 12, 2019, in good condition. But she was deprived of fulfilling some of her promises to her children in particular, as her lifeless body was found next day, in her room, without any clue of who the perpetrators are , till date.
Her death has not only sent waves of shock down the spines of her loved ones but it has also gone a long way to describe how lives of Nigerians lare being taken without recourse to what follows.
One would have thought that by now, the South African Police would have got a lead on the investigation into the murder. But no! It might as well end up as some unraveled cases of various Nigerians that were killed in cold blood in South Africa, except the Nigerian Government rises up to take a decisive step that would prove otherwise.
Statistics , show that in four years in South Africa, there has been grandiose disappearance of sanity and humanity, as her citizens are tilting towards the height of Xenophobic tendencies.
Without any provocation, close to 130 Nigerians have reportedly been killed, with hundreds maimed by South Africans, who see them as threats to their economy. This is within few years.
Reports also have in that In May 2018, NAN reported that 118 Nigerians had been killed in South Africa since February 2016. Seven in 10 of these killings were carried out by officers of the South African Police.
Considering Nigeria’s role in the fight against Apartheid South Africa, no one could have imagined a time will come , when South African citizens would raise their hands and mercilessly kill innocent Nigerians that are domiciled among them.
Sadly, some of these killings were allegedly carried out by officers of the South African Police .
Among those sent to unprepared graves was Uchenna Eloh. He was killed in August 2017, in the Western Cape Province.
Chairman, Western Cape chapter of the union, Kanayo Onwumelu, had told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) from Cape Town, that Eloh, who hailed from Eziagu in Eziagu Local Government Area of Enugu State was strangled to death by South African policemen.
He was quoted to have said, “At about 11.00 a.m. South African time on Wednesday, a Nigerian, Uchenna Emmanuel Eloh, popularly known as “Monkey”, was killed by a South African police officer. He was walking out of his house toward the bus station when a police van stopped to search him, suspecting that he might be in possession of illegal substance.
“Three policemen accosted Eloh, one of them, by the name Williams, held him on the neck suspecting that he swallowed a substance, while another police officer held him by the legs,” he said.
Two months after that incident, another Nigerian, Mr Ibrahim Olalekan Badmus, (25) who hailed from Lagos state, was also killed at Vaal Vreneging, near Johannesburg.
His death occurred barely one week after one Jelili Omoyele, a 35 year –old cellular phone technician was shot dead at Doornfontein, near Johannesburg. The list is endless.
Another case of murder was that of one James Ekeh, 36, an indigene of Imo. He was killed at Mabopane Station near Pretoria by unknown assailants on June 2018. Late Ekeh, a tomato trader at Mabopane market in Pretoria, was reportedly shot several times by unknown gunmen.
Ekeh’s killing brought the number of Nigerians killed in the former apartheid enclave since February, 2016, to 119, according to report.
The Nigerian Union in South Africa (NUSA), through its Publicity Secretary, Habib Salihu had called on President Muhammadu Buhari, then, to intervene in the incident, then.
Also same year, six Nigerians were murdered in Rustenburg. without any arrest or prosecution. In this case, report said there was no meaningful intervention to bring the perpetrators to book.
Again, in July last year, one Victor Onazi was shot dead. The following month, precisely on August 25, 2018, one Mr Okechukwu Chukwumezeriri 39, who hailed from Imo State, was shot dead on a football field at Rietondale Park in Pretoria.
Next day, being 26th, another Nigerian, Olushola Ayanleye , 42, from Ondo State, was also shot dead at Essellen Street, Sunnyside in Pretoria.
In this case, the President of the Nigerian Union in South Africa (NUSA), Mr Adetola Olubajo, disclosed the tragedy was a gang-related killing.
But he was however quick to add that : “ As the umbrella organisation of Nigerians in South Africa, our stand is that whoever kills should face the full wrath of the law, irrespective of his or her nationality.”
In April 2019, news of the death of one Bonny Iwuoha, 48, from Ihitte/Uboma in Imo state, filtered in again. He was reportedly stabbed to death at about 11.45pm on April 6, 2019, in Johannesburg South. His assailants were said to have followed him from 152 Hay Street Turffontein and thereafter, stabbed and killed him in front of his gate at Turf Road, Turffontein.
Next day, another Nigerian, Goziem Akpenyi, had life snuffed out of him in a similar circumstance. He was said to have been stabbed to death by three unidentified coloured South African men after an argument, at Bellville Stadium parking lot in Cape Town at about 1pm.
Same month, there was also the killing of Clement Nwaogu , a father of two. Not done, his assailants , reportedly burnt him.
A month earlier, four Nigerians were shot dead. Three of the victims were murdered in Sunnyside, Pretoria and one in Balfour Park, Johannesburg, as gathered.
For Mr Ozumba Tochukwu-Lawrence, another Nigerian, he was shot dead by an unknown gunman at 10 Koppe, Middleburg, Mpumalanga, South Africa, on July 6.
Three days later, another Nigerian, ThankGod Okoro, was also allegedly shot dead in Hamburg, Florida West Rand, Johannesburg, by the South African Police Flying Squad.
Again, on July 12, 2019, another Nigerian, Mr. Martin Ebuzoeme, was murdered by unknown assailant in South Africa.2
President of Nigerian Union in South Africa, Mr. Adetola Olubola, who confirmed the killing, said the victim was killed in Yeoville, Johannesburg, around 7:30pm.
South African President visit to Nigeria
Surprisingly, this incident , happened barely 24 hours after the visit of South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, to Nigeria. During the visit, Ramaphosa had said that the killing of Nigerians and other foreign nationals in his country was an act of criminality, not specifically targeted at Nigerians.
He said, “The killings are caused by high level of unemployment among the youth as well as other social factors emanating from long apartheid misrule. Government is however, doing all best possible to bring them down,” Ramaphosa had said.
One would have expected that with Ramaphosa’s visit, modalities to put these uncanny incidents in check would have been deliberated on by him and his Nigerian counterpart.
While Nigerians were awaiting the outcome of his visit, news of the death of another Nigerian filtered in, with the latest being late Mrs. Elizabeth Ndubuisi Chukwu’s.
At the moment, her body has been deposited in a morgue in Asaba, from where it would be taken to Ihiala in Anambra State for burial., according to the Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C. Don Adinuba.
Last month, the Consul General of the Nigerian Consulate in Johannesburg, Mr. Godwin Adama, announced plans by the mission to protest killings and high-handedness of the South African police against Nigerians.
This planned action was as a result of the killing of a Nigerian, Maxwell Okoye, allegedly by the South African police.
He stated that “I have confirmed the death of Maxwell Ikechukwu Okoye in the hands of South African police officers at about 01:00 hours on Friday, June 14 , 2019, when a group of policemen invaded his house in Ladysmith in Kwazulu Natal Province.
“He reportedly alerted a leader of the Nigerian community in the area of the presence of policemen in his house and called for their intervention.
“However, help was not immediately available, probably due to the time of the night and the fact that all attempts to get him on line was futile.
“He eventually was reported dead by the police who claimed they met him foaming when they broke into his house in that odd hour of the night, a claim that appeared suspicious and compromising.”
By the time members of the Nigerian community got to the victim’s house, report said that his apartment was turned upside down and that the Police had taken his body to the mortuary .
But the planned protest according to Adama, who informed that the mission had reported the matter to the national headquarters of the South African Independent Police Investigative Directorate, would be carried out through diplomatic channels.
Alleged killings by South African Police
He revealed that “ This is about the third case involving alleged torture and murder of Nigerians by the South African police within one month.
“It happened in Cape Town, Durban and now in Ladysmith. As the Nigerian Mission in South Africa, we will not fold our hands and allow these infractions to continue.
“We will not stand by and allow this development to continue. We shall be visiting the area to see things for ourselves while engaging relevant authorities on the matter. It is unacceptable.”
He recalled that how a Nigerian, Badmus Olalekan, was allegedly murdered in October 2017, by men of the South African Police, adding however, that eight policemen were arrested and arraigned in court, in Vanderbijlpark Park, near Johannesburg, over the murder.
He said that particular case was at the High Court in Johannesburg and would be concluded in October 2019 going by the conclusions of the last court sitting.
He said, “We are closely following up this along with the others to ensure that justice is served. We shall not leave any stone unturned concerning these matters.
“The high-handedness of the South African police against Nigerians over flimsy excuses has become worrisome and deserves the intervention of the authorities.
“This is to protect the excellent relations that exist between the two countries as well as preserve coexistence of Nigerians and their South African hosts.”
Back home in Nigeria, former chairman of the Nigerian Human Rights Commission, NHRC Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, would not allow the murder of Uju to be swept under the carpet , as he had begun a campaign with #WhoKilledUjuNdubuisi.
Gov. Willie Obiano of Anambra State , also lent his voice to the call for a discreet investigation into the murder
Obiano said: “It has become necessary to request the SGF to personally wade into the killing. “The police in Johannesburg may be capitalising on the absence of a foreign minister in Nigeria to treat the case with levity.” According to him, there is report on death of 53-year old indigene of Anambra State, which suggest that the South African police are treating this murder as just another death of a Nigerian. “It is disheartening that more than three weeks after the dastardly act, the South African police have not deemed it necessary to investigate the heinous crime with the seriousness it deserves.
On its part, the Senate, Wednesday, warned the South African government to accord due respect to Nigeria, cautioning it not to take its good gesture towards it for granted.
With such weighty words from the senate, one would have expected something tangible to have come out from the investigation back in South Africa but till date , anxious Nigerians still await its outcome.
The Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has said that the Nigerian Government would not fall for a cover-up of the alleged murder of late and had also assured that investigation to unravel the killers of late Ndubuisi would be thorough.
If this assurance is anything to go by, then, justice may not be far fetched .