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Nigerians willing to return home from SA should be immediately evacuated—Buhari

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has directed that Nigerians who opt to return home from South Africa due to the prevalence of xenophobic attacks should be evacuated “immediately”.

According to the presidential Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, president Buhari gave this instruction on Monday after receiving a report from the special envoy sent to the Southern African country in the wake of xenophobic attacks.

The press release did not, however, mention how the evacuation is to be done or whether the federal government will bear the costs.

Buhari also instructed the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, to keep engaging with the right authorities “on the concrete measures the South African Government is expected to take”.

Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, was the president’s special envoy. He was in Pretoria between Thursday, September 5, and Saturday, September 7, to convey Buhari’s message to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Abubakar stated in his report that he conveyed Buhari’s and Nigerians’ deep concern about endless violent attacks against Nigerians and their properties.

“President Buhari stressed the need for South African Government to take visible measures to stop violence against citizens of brotherly African nations,” the report also stated.

“President 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.”

Abubakar said he delivered Buhari’s message assuring the South African government of Nigeria’s readiness to partner in finding a solution to “the involvement of few Nigerians in criminal activities, and to protect the lives and property of the larger groups of other law-abiding Nigerians … against all forms of attacks including xenophobia”.

“President Buhari further assured that the Nigerian Government will guarantee the safety of lives, property and business interests of South Africans in Nigeria,” the release said.

“On his part, President Ramaphosa agreed that the violence was most disconcerting and embarrassing, adding that his government completely rejects such acts, which undermine not only the country’s image but also its relations with brotherly African countries.

“President Ramaphosa reaffirmed his stand against criminality and committed to do everything possible to protect the rights of every Nigerian and other foreign nationals in the country.”

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