Nigerian president orders evacuation of citizens from South Africa
In this photo released by the Nigeria State House, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari speaks during the swearing in ceremony for newly appointed Ministers in Abuja, Nigeria Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019. [Photo: AP]
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday ordered the immediate evacuation of all Nigerians who are willing to return home from South Africa due to the xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals.
Buhari's decision came after he received the brief of a special envoy to South Africa, who was on a mission to convey the deep concern of the president about intermittent violence against Nigerians and their property or business interests in that country, according to a presidency statement.
The president stressed the need for the South African government to take visible measures to stop violence against citizens of brotherly African nations, said the statement.
"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 statement said.
The Nigerian leader also expressed to the South African government of Nigeria's readiness and willingness to collaborate with them to find a lasting solution to the involvement of "a few Nigerians in criminal activities".
"Nigeria would partner with the South African government 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," said the statement.
Buhari further ordered the foreign ministry to continue to engage with appropriate authorities on the concrete measure the South African government is expected to take toward finding a lasting solution to the attacks.
South Africa has recently witnessed a wave of riots that mainly targeted foreign-owned shops, including Nigerian businesses.
South Africa's telecommunication giant, the MTN Group, and supermarket chain Shoprite have closed all stores and service centers in Nigeria after their premises were attacked.
Buhari will pay a state visit to South Africa next month following the wave of xenophobic attacks in both countries.