A group of Nigerians under the aegis of Active Citizens of Nigeria, on Thursday marched to the Embassy of South Africa in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, asking the government of the former apartheid country to openly condemn xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in the country.
The protest march that took off at the popular Unity Fountain was led by Edith Yassin and Jeff Okoraofor, both human rights activists.
The group urged the South African government to openly condemn the previous and current xenophobic attacks, adding that there should be no ambiguity as to the government’s official stance.
On reaching the South African Embassy which is directly opposite the European Union Commission’s building in Maitama area of Abuja, the group was however, prevented from getting closer to the building by armed policemen guarding the place.
The protest march took place a day the South African government announced that it has temporarily shut down its embassies in Lagos and Abuja
The ICIR observed that no activity was ongoing at the Abuja High Commission’s office as the gate was under locks, while armed policemen monitored the area.
Naledi Pandor, the South African Foreign Affairs Minister, said the decision to shut the mission was based on concerns for the safety of the staff following received threats.
Meanwhile, the protesters were chanting at the entrance of the embassy demanding an end to xenophobia in South Africa.
“We do not need xenophobia. They have been doing this over and over again,” said Edith.
“These attacks have targeted Africans from other countries, residing in South Africa, especially Nigerians and their business,” she added.
The country’s high commissioner, Bobby Monroe, had earlier stated on Tuesday that the recent attacks that occurred between Sunday and Monday were “Sporadic act of violence” in his country and not Xenophobic attacks on Nigerians.
The protesters, thereafter, demanded justice and compensation to the victims of xenophobic attacks, calling on the government to prosecute those engaging in the activities.
On the placards carried by some of them inscriptions such as : “I am Nigerian. I am not your hate!!!”
“No to Xenophobia.
Nigerians say no to xenophobia.
We demand protection and compensation,” a placard read.
Nigerians across some states of the Federation had been engaging in a series of protest since the recent cases of xenophobic attacks happened between Sunday and Monday.
Some of the protests had turned violent leading to a young man’s death on Tuesday in Lagos.
The group, however, asked the fellow Nigerians to show restraint when channelling their grievances, urging them to follow lawful means.