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South Africa Apologises to Nigeria

The diplomatic confrontation ignited with the March 2 deportation of 125 Nigerians from South Africa over fake yellow fever card may have come to a close with Pretoria offering the Nigerian government an apology over the occurrence.

The diplomatic confrontation ignited with the March 2 deportation of 125 Nigerians from South Africa over fake yellow fever card may have come to a close with Pretoria offering the Nigerian government an apology over the occurrence.

South African, an ally of Nigeria but also a continental rival, deported 125 Nigerians on the grounds that the yellow fever cards the Nigerians used to gain entry into the country were not genuine.

The reactions that followed were uncomplimentary and threatened diplomatic ties between the foremost African countries and continent’s biggest economies.

Nigeria’s minister of foreign affairs, Olugbenga Ashiru who appeared before the House of Representatives on Tuesday said the happening was linked to xenophobia being nursed by South Africans against Nigerians.

He accused South African police and immigration of being overzealous in the discharge of their duties as it relates to Nigerians.

He was summoned to explain the efforts being made by the federal government in resolving the situation and ensuring that Nigerians are not humiliated or discriminated against anywhere they choose to reside around the world.

Before the apology, the development had led to a diplomatic spat between the two countries with Nigeria forced to make retaliatory and phased deportation of South Africa citizens from Nigeria. By the time the apology was conveyed to Abuja, several hundred South Africans had suffered deportation.

Addressing a press conference today, South Africa’s foreign minister, Ibrahim Ibrahim stated that the apology became necessary because the South African government realized that some of the Nigerians were wrongly deported. He told reporters, “We wish to humbly apologize to them, and we have.” He stated further, “We are apologizing because we deported a number of people who should not have been deported.”   He blamed airport authority for not properly determining the authenticity of the cards, adding that South Africa would consider reopening of a health clinic at the airport to prevent future erroneous deportations.

He also used the forum to disagree with Ashiru’s labeling of South Africa as xenophobic.

The press statement had two Nigerian diplomats in attendance. Nigeria and South Africa have recently taken separate diplomatic positions on African affairs, notably among them their  positions on the crises in Sudan and Libya.

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