BY VICTORIA OJEME
ABUJA: Nigeria Consul General in Johannesburg, Godwin Adama says the mission in South Africa has put in place measures to ease evacuation of Nigerians from the country following attacks on them.
This was even as the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations, NIPR, called on the Federal Government to step up its response to the killings of Nigerians in South Africa.
In an interview with Vanguard on Tuesday in Abuja, Adama said that the mission had done proper documentation of those willing to return home.
The envoy said that mission had also put necessary checks in place to ensure that other nationals do not take the advantage of the free flight by Air Peace to come into Nigeria.
Adama said: “We are documenting people through filling of relevant form with information such as place of birth, state of origin, local government areas.
“We also check nationality and discourage wives with different nationalities to avoid bringing in other nationals. We equally discourage those wanting to take advantage of the flight.
“The two Missions are working together to make a success of the repatriation exercise.
“Nigerians will be conveyed in buses from the two missions to the airport at early hours of the morning on Wednesday to ensure smooth operations,” he said.
Nigerian High Commissioner to South Africa, Kabiru Bala also said that the mission was equally responding to the needs of those willing to return, especially those who had issues with their documents.
“We are documenting them. Those without travel documents, we shall provide them with Emergency Travel Certificates.
“There are other governmental procedures that we must observe. Relevant agencies of government in Nigeria must be informed and must be ready to receive the returnees.
“Hard work is now going on at the High Commission and Consulate in this regard,” he said.
In a related development, President and Chairman of the Governing Council of the NIPR, Alhaji Mukhtar Sirajo, in a statement in Abuja, described xenophobia as a crime against humanity, especially as it runs contrary to the universal values of sanctity of human life, freedom of movement, mutual respect, open engagement, communication and effective relationship management.
He sends the condolences of the NIPR to families of the victims of the xenophobic attacks, while he advised Nigerians living abroad to continue to pursue their undertakings in lawful manners and remain good ambassadors to everyone.
The NIPR boss also appealed to the South African authorities to be more forthcoming in the handling of the issue by getting on top of the issue, apprehending and meting out appropriate sanctions against those found guilty to serve as a deterrent to others.
He said, “The NIPR is worried, like all Nigerians and other right thinking people across the world, at these recurring attacks being perpetrated against Nigerians and other nationals of other African countries in South African.
“These recurring attacks, which have claimed many lives and destroyed valuable properties, are now sadly being met with many reprisals in other African countries including Nigeria. Xenophobia is a menace our world must find solution to or it will become the albatross of our age.”
Sirajo noted that there was a strong nexus between xenophobia and racism, especially as both of them feed upon hate, prejudice and crass violation of the victims’ fundamental human rights.
He, however, cautioned against reprisals, as he noted that in addressing the situation, Nigerians must be encouraged not to fall victims of the mistakes of some misguided individuals in South Africa.
He said, “The NIPR lends its voice to other voices of reasons and moderation to appeal to Nigerians and all our brothers and sisters across Africa to halt the descent into the gutter of criminality and savagery, as we need to show that we are better than those perpetrating those crimes.
“We must also realize that Nigeria and South Africa are the two African economic giants whose stability and mutual understanding mean a lot to the peace and security of Africa. Whatever challenges that go beyond the control of our two governments might likely lead to unimaginable consequences for the African continent.”