During rallies in Abuja and Enugu State, NANS described the attacks as unwarranted.

NANS March Against Xenophobia in South Africa
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) is blowing hot over the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa. It has threatened reprisals, if the attacks are not stopped.

During rallies in Abuja and Enugu State, NANS described the attacks as unwarranted.

Hundreds of tertiary institutions in Niger State and Abuja gathered for the rally in the federal capital tagged: Madness to cure madness, against South Africa.

The protesters condemned what they called assaults on Africans. They carried placards with inscriptions, such as “NANS against xenophobic attacks on Nigerians”, “We condemn attacks on our fellow Africans”, “We are our brothers’ keepers in Africa”, and “South Africans are bunch of ingrates”.

The protesters led by NANS President, Aruna Kadiri, moved from the Unity Fountain to the MTN office in Maitama, and then to the Multichoice office in the Central Business District. They chanted solidarity songs, expressing their grievances to the cruelty and intolerance of South Africans against foreigners.

The protesters marched on the South African High Commission, where they burnt South African flag. The demonstration was terminated at the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where the protesters demanded “decisive action” from the Federal Government on South Africa.

Kadiri said: “We want to put it clear that we are annoyed by the nasty story emanating from South Africa. It is unfortunate that these acts of savagery by man to his fellow man happened in a country whose independence was fought by all Africans. Hence, we are saying enough is enough. We would not condone violent hostility towards Africans in South Africa.

“Nigeria contributed significant resources to the freedom South Africans are enjoying today. It is surprising that the same people now humiliate Nigerians in their country. If they have forgotten so soon, let them recourse back to history and see how much Nigeria had contributed morally, logistically, forcefully and monetarily to liberate South Africa from the shackle of apartheid.”

Responding, the Foreign Ministry spokespersons, Clement Aduku, urged the protesters to drop the idea of reprisal, saying the government did not rest on its oars in addressing the issue with its South African counterpart.

The South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Lulu Aaron-Mnguni, regretted the attacks, promising that the culprits would be prosecuted.

He said: ‘’The South African government share in the grief of Nigerians and other foreigners who may have suffered physical, emotional, psychological and financial trauma as a result of the xenophobic attacks. There is no denying that the incident is not only despicable but demeaning of the African race. However, I want to assure everyone that the culprits would not go unpunished. It is important that all foreign nationals in South Africa or those proposing a visit ensure that they travel with genuine documents and endeavour to respect the laws of their host country.”

At a briefing after its rally, the Enugu State chapter of NANS urged the government to prevent recurrence of the attacks on Nigerians.

Its Chairman, Chidi Ilogebe, said: “We are calling on the Federal Government to do the needful by bringing an end to xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa. We also call on the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, to protect foreigners living in his country. He needs to call his countrymen to order.”

NANS Zonal Public Relations Officer (PRO), Victor Ezenagu, decried the attacks, saying they were signs of ingratitude to the role Nigeria played toward the freedom of South Africans.

He said: “Nigerians don’t deserve what they are experiencing in the hands of South Africans. About three decades ago, we led a vanguard that fought apartheid in South Africa. The likes of Thabo Mbeki were given asylum in Nigeria. We saw South Africans as brothers.

“Nothing warrants the attacks on Nigerians in South Africa. We call on the President Zuma to stop these xenophobic attacks on. South Africans shouldn’t think they have monopoly of violence. We have many of their countrymen in Nigeria and they are living in peace. We want them to reciprocate this good gesture to our patriots living in their country. They must know that respect begets respect, and violence begets violence too.”

NANS said it is duty as pressure group to seek the protection of Nigerians in and outside the country’s border. The students urged the National Assembly, National Human Rights Commission, civil society organisations and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to expedite actions to ensuring protection for Nigerians in South Africa.
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Chinelo Agatha Okafor

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