Ex-foreign affairs minister wants Nigeria to sue South Africa over xenophobic attacks

Nigerian returnees from South Africa after the xenophobic attacks arriving at Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos on September 11, 2019. PHOTOS: NAJEEM RAHEEM

Former minister of foreign affairs Professor Bolaji Akinyemi Sunday called on the Nigerian Government to drag South Africa to the International Criminal Court of Justice over the xenophobic attacks that claimed lives and property of some Nigerians.

Akinyemi, in a statement he sent to The Guardian, said that the South African government failed to protect Nigerians and made statements unbecoming of a responsible country.

The former minister said Nigeria must sue South Africa because the xenophobic attacks were in violation of Article 2, Paragraph 2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The attacks, according to Akinyemi, were also against Article 2, Paragraph 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the International Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers.

Akinyemi also accused South African authorities of sponsoring or condoning the attacks, which the country’s foreign affairs minister Naledi Pandor described as Afrophobia.

Akinyemi said statements made by South African leaders such as Pandor, defense minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and former deputy minister of police Bongani Mkongi encouraged the latest attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals.

When contacted, President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman Femi Adesina and his special adviser on diaspora Abike Dabiri-Erewa said only the ministers of foreign affairs and information can comment on Akinyemi’s advice.

“All matters relating to diplomatic moves or foreign affairs policies should be directed to the Minister Foreign Affairs,” Dabiri-Erewa said.

Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister Geoffrey Onyeama told The Guardian that the West African country “cannot rule anything out for now” when asked if Nigeria will sue South Africa.

The country is currently weighing its options, he said.

“We are still receiving reports from our High Commission and the Consulate General, evaluating them and weighing options,” Onyeama said on Sunday.

The minister of information Lai Mohammed has not replied to the message sent to him on the subject at the time of filing this report.

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