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Xenophobic: ‘We’ve Drawn The Red Line Against South Africa’

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Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama (m), Minister of State, Amb Zubairu Dada, Permamanent Secretary, Amb Mustapha Suleiman
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  • Says It’s Unacceptable, Enough Is Enough
  • Asks Nigerians Not to Retaliate 

By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja

Nigerian Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama has warned the South African government against any form of xenophobic attacks on Nigerian citizens in the south coast country.

The minister also confirmed that Nigeria has boycotted the World Economic Forum scheduled for South Africa taking place on September 4-6.

Onyeama gave the warning on Wesnesday while speaking to State House correspondents after he met with President Muhammadu Bubari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He said that President Buhari agreed with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo not to go to South Africa under the climate of xenophobic attacks.

The minister stressed that red line has been drawn against South Africa, warning ”enough is enough.

We can’t allow any of our city to be killed in South Africa and we demand full compensation for their properties destroyed in South Africa.”

He said that recalling of Nigerian ambassador to South Africa, was one of the options the government would use in resolving the issue.

He added that the final decision will be taken after the report of the special envoy sent to South Africa.

The minister while giving an update on the xenophobic attacks said: “We have made it clear that what has happened in South Africa is totally unacceptable. 

”We will not accept it and as I said earlier, enough is enough and we are not going to come back to this, we are going to address it once and for all. 

”This is the position of government that we are going to draw a redline here. Whatever measures that needs to be taken to ensure the safety of Nigerians in South Africa, we will take. 

“We have been in touch with the South African government at the very highest level with the President of South Africa as to what we want to achieve. The special envoy has very clear directives about the commitment and the guarantees that we expect from the South African government.

”Of course, a lot of things have been circulating in the social media which have not helped matters. Some of them have really distorted the situation and because of that have impacted our response.

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”So, number one is that the information we have from the High Commission, from the Consul General in South Africa is that no Nigerian life has been lost during this crisis. And I think that is very important because on social media, there is a lot of stories going around of Nigerians being killed, jumping off buildings and being burnt. This is not the case.

”What we know is that premises, shops of Nigerians have been looted and property destroyed.

Confirming the withdrawal of Nigeria’s participation in the World Economic Forum in South Africa, he said that the Vice President was scheduled to go to South Africa tomorrow (Thursday) to attend the World Economic Forum, ”clearly with this climate, he and Mr. President have agreed that he should not go to the World Economic Forum in Cape town and we are looking at other measures to take.”

He said that Mr. President was particularly disturbed at the act of vandalism that has taken place here in Nigeria, in retaliation of what is happening in South Africa.

Onyeama stressed that the government believes that they have to take the moral high ground on this matter. 

”We are victims here and have made that position clear to the international community and to the South African government. We here in Nigeria must not fall into the temptation of also resorting to the acts that we are condemning in others.

”Mr. President has pleaded and he is likely to make a statement on this, addressing the Nigerian people to please desist from acts of vandalism and aggression, destroying properties.”

The Federal govgovern appealed to Nigerians back home to remain calm, warning against taking attacking south African businesses in Nigeria.

He said that ”these businesses- Shoprite, MTN and others, yes there are South African but these are subsidiaries in Nigeria owned by Nigerians. So, as attacks are made against Shoprite and other such institutions, it is actually the property owned by Nigerians within Nigeria and the people working there are Nigerians.”

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”So the people that will suffer from those acts of vandalism and aggression are not South Africans or anyone else but Nigerians. But morally, it is wrong not even because of who will suffer and not suffer. 

Mr. President is appealing to Nigerians, the  government is acting, we cannot state everything, our everything in public domain with regards to what we are doing obviously, but we want to assure all Nigerians that this government is determined that the redline has been drawn and we will not give in on this occasion and that the South African government has to assumed its responsibilities and do the right thing. Protect Nigerians and other Africans I might say in South Africa and we have to hold them to count. Full compensation has to be paid because as we have discovered from previous experience, a lot of these Nigerians loss their property and it is a long drawn out process and every often are not compensated for it.  But on this occasion, the Nigerian government is going to fight for full compensation and hold the government of South Africa to count. And we are going to consider other options to ensure that the message gets across to the government of South Africa.

It is not a question of weakness or anything of the sort but we have to move decisively and that is precisely what the government is going to do. 

We have all the options on the table and on the return of the special envoy, we will all sit down and look at all the options and assess the report.

And there is no measure that we consider to be appropriate that we will shrink from taking. We will take whatever and all measures necessary to ensure that never again are we going back to this whole issue of Nigerians being attacked and properties destroyed and in some cases killed in South Africa.

It is an ongoing story, we will keep you informed but the important message is that Mr. President is fully engaged in this process, he is being briefed on an hourly basis and we are not going to shrink from taking all the necessary steps to make it the last time this kind of thing will happen.”

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Asked to disclose the identity of the envoy and measures being taken to protect Nigerians, Onyeama said: “the identify of the special envoy will be revealed in due course. There are certain reasons why we don’t want to do so immediately. 

“On measures being taken, of course the security agencies are fully aware of the threats that are now existing to various businesses in Nigeria at the moment and they are fully mobilized to address that.”

On if the bone of contention has been established, he said: our basic premise is this, there is no justification whatsoever for individuals or coming as a group to take the laws into their own hands and to target Nigerians. This is totally unacceptable.

He added: ”It is important to note that there is now an African consensus building around this, it is totally abhorrent and unacceptable that there should be xenophobia against Africans on African soil, not to talk about what a Nigeria has done for South Africa, even everybody knows that during the years of apartheid but nevertheless we understand that the president of Rwanda will not attend the world economic forum, the president of Democratic Republic of Congo, the president of Malawi, the Zambian football team that were supposed to play in South Africa also stepped down that match and is not going ahead with it. And so is the African Union, the president of the African Union has also come out with a statement condemning what is happening in South Africa. A large number of victims are Nigerians and we will not tolerate it.”

On why the Nigerian High commissioner has been recalled when the envoy was on his way to South Africa, he said: “No. it is one of the options we are considering. He will need to come back but we feel he should come back after the envoy has gone there, so that Mr. President will also have the benefits of the full and comprehensive brief from all the individuals who are the position to have seen things at a close range.”

Foreign News

Husband of Slain Kenyan Runner Tirop Seeks Plea Bargain

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The husband of slain Kenyan distance runner Agnes Tirop is seeking a plea bargain after initially denying a charge of murder, his lawyer said yesterday.

Tirop, a rising star in the world of athletics, was killed last October in her home in Iten, a high-altitude training hub in western Kenya for top runners.

Emmanuel Ibrahim Rotich was arrested after a dramatic late-night chase the day after Tirop’s body was found with stab wounds, and has been in custody ever since.

The 41-year-old denied a charge of murder at a November court appearance.

But in the latest twist in the legal saga, his lawyer Ngigi Mbugua told the Eldoret High Court that Rotich was willing to plead guilty to a lesser charge in the hope of attracting a more lenient sentence.

The prosecution said it was not against the idea of a plea bargain but wanted Tirop’s family to be involved in the process.

A hearing on Rotich’s request will take place on 22 September.

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Foreign News

US Beach Returned to Black Owners after 98 Years

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A prime beachfront resort seized from its black owners nearly 100 years ago has been returned to their descendants by officials in Los Angeles.

Bruce’s Beach was purchased in 1912 to create a beach resort for black people at a time of racial segregation in southern California.

Located in the desirable city of Manhattan Beach, it was forcibly taken by the local council in 1924.

But on Tuesday, Los Angeles officials voted to return the land to the family.

Willa and Charles Bruce bought the two lots of land for $1,225 in 1912. The beach is now worth an estimated $20m (£16.45m).

Willa told a reporter at the time: “Wherever we have tried to buy land for a beach resort, we have been refused, but I own this land and I am going to keep it.”

Over the next decade, Bruce’s Beach became a “citadel for African Americans coming there for leisure from all over the rest of southern California,” family spokesman Chief Duane “Yellow Feather” Shepard told the BBC last year.

But the local police department put up signs limiting parking to 10 minutes, and another local landowner put up no trespassing signs, forcing people to walk half a mile to reach the water, he said.

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When those measures failed to deter visitors, the local authorities seized the land under eminent domain laws – designed to let the government forcibly buy land needed for roads and other public buildings.

Officials claimed they planned to build a park. That did not happen until many decades later, and the area remained vacant in the interim.

On Tuesday, the motion to return the land acknowledged, “it is well documented that this move was a racially motivated attempt to drive out the successful black business and its patrons”.

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NATO to Agree on Biggest Defence Policy Changes since End of Cold War

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NATO leaders are expected to sign off on a major reinforcement of the alliance’s Eastern European members on Wednesday when they meet in Madrid to project a united stance amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The decision is a fundamental shift of deterrence and defence in the alliance, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said as the three-day summit began on Tuesday.

Stoltenberg was echoing previous comments ahead of the summit that described the move as “the biggest overhaul of (NATO’s) collective deterrence and defence since the Cold War.

The war in Ukraine has breathed new purpose into the Western alliance after years of internal discord as tensions grew between Europe and the U.S. under former U.S president Donald Trump.

French President Emmanuel Macron even remarked in 2019 that NATO was experiencing brain death as doubts grew about the alliance’s direction over trans-Atlantic tensions.

The chaotic end to the U.S. and NATO’s 20-year intervention in Afghanistan helped little until the Ukraine war underlined the alliance’s central aim: collective defence.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has made even clearer how important NATO is for the future, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said at the start of the summit.

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As well as new confidence, NATO is also attracting new members with Sweden and Finland deciding to abandon neutrality and pursue membership in view of the Russian invasion.

In an early boost to proceedings, Turkey agreed on Tuesday to drop its veto of Sweden and Finland’s entry to the alliance after significant pledges from both countries to combat terrorism.

Ankara had opposed both countries’ entry for weeks, charging both nations with supporting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the YPG.

A Kurdish militia based in Syria, both of which Ankara classified as terrorist groups. Sweden and Finland refuted this.

On Wednesday the trans-Atlantic alliance is set to agree to position more equipment near Russia, including heavy weaponry; to boost troop numbers in multinational NATO battlegroups in Eastern Europe.

It will also expand rapid reaction forces from 40,000 to 300,000 soldiers.

The NATO Response Force (NRF) is usually under national command but can be requested for deployment to another ally by NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).

NATO allies are still finalising details of the exact composition of the expanded battle groups in Eastern Europe, with some alliance members seeking to avoid costly permanent bases.

The Baltics, especially Estonia, have pushed NATO hard to shift tactics in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and move to the fully-fledged defence of alliance territory in Eastern Europe.

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This would replace a model to relinquish and later recapture lost ground.

The 30-strong Western defensive alliance was to also agree on a new strategic concept outlining NATO’s security tasks and missions, the first update since 2010.

The alliance’s security blueprint for the next 10 years is expected to categorise Russia as the most direct threat to NATO as well as address China for the first time.

NATO partner countries in the Indo-Pacific region Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea were also taking part, a sign that the war in Ukraine has not completely occupied the alliance’s attention.

NATO members also planned to commit to providing Ukraine with long-term support including more equipment, supplies, training and help to transition away from Soviet-era military equipment.

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