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The scene in a mainly migrant populated area of Johannesburg on Monday after South African rioters had burnt and looted shops belonging to foreign nationals living in the country / Photo: NSA

Nigeria recalls ambassador from South Africa as diplomatic row heats up

A day after Nigeria’s foreign minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, summoned Bobby Moroe, the South Africa High Commissioner to Nigeria, to his office following xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals in South Africa, Africa’s most populous country has now withdrawn its ambassador, Alhaji Kabiru Bala, to Pretoria.

The latest diplomatic action was taken amidst attacks on South African-owned businesses operating in Nigeria.

Abuja also announced on Tuesday that President Muhammadu Buhari would be sending an envoy to South Africa on the issue.

A presidential source was quoted by News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) as saying that Nigeria had demanded full compensation for the loss of life and property of Nigerians affected by the xenophobic attacks.

President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo after their meeting on the South African xenophobic attacks on Wednesday in Abuja, Nigeria / Photo: Nigerian Presidency

 

The source further stated that Nigeria would pull out of the World Economic Forum on Africa, scheduled to be held in Cape Town, South Africa, from September 4 to 6. By this action, Nigeria will follow the examples of Congo, Rwanda and Malawi, who have since pulled out of the Summit. The Zambian football team that was supposed to play in South Africa has also stepped down the match and it is not going ahead with it.

Meanwhile, there have been reports of attacks on some businesses, especially MTN and Shoprite outlets, owned by South Africans in Lagos, Abuja and Ibadan in retaliation to the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa. However, government has made it clear that the companies, though owned by South Africa, operate through subsidiaries in Nigeria owned and run by Nigerians.

Shoprite and MTN operate in many countries across the continent and fears have been expressed that such companies could be targeted in countries whose nationals were victims of the violence in South Africa.

READ ALSO Nigeria goes tough on South Africa over xenophobic attacks

Analysts are blaming the South African government for allowing xenophobic attacks against foreign nationals in the country to take place regularly without taking effective measures to forestall them. And the country’s investments in other African countries could suffer as a result.

Between Sunday and Wednesday, mobs looted and destroyed shops, many of them foreign-owned, in South Africa’s commercial hub, Johannesburg. At least 10 people have been killed, including two foreign nationals, the South African government says, but none of the victims have been identified as Nigerian.

Kola Tella

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