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Lawyers speak about what the Constitution says on Xenophobic attacks

Lawyers speak about what the Constitution says on Xenophobic attacks

Recent attacks on African nationals in South Africa by South Africans, have become so alarming that Nigerians resorted to retaliation by destroying properties and investments owned by South Africans in Nigeria. The Hope correspondent, Kayode Olabanji speaks with lawyers.


Mr Olaleye Steve Akintububo

Xenophobia simply means a psychological disorder which induce fear or dislike for people from other tribes, race or nations. It is another form of racism.

The main issue is that it is a phobic mental state capable of igniting violence against people of other tribes, race or nations. The recent attacks on other African nationals residing in South Africa by South Africans are typical example of xenophobic attacks. I think South Africans are suffering from this abnormal mental state due to the long misrule of white Apartheid regime in South Africa.

The white minority set in motion the machinery of racism and xenophobic policies against the black majority populace. This has affected the blacks psychologically and they grew up to witness several state sponsored xenophobic attacks on the blacks across the country from Soweto to Cape Town. From Johannesburg to Kwazi Natal Zulu etc.

These recent xenophobic attacks by South Africans on other African nationals including Nigerians in my humble opinion is a carryover of what the white minority taught them directly or indirectly.

A critical study of the prevailing situation in South Africa shows that foreign nationals are fast taking over the economy of South Africa while her citizens are dozing off as they seem to be contented with the social security policies of the country.

The fear that foreign nationals including Africans will control their economy in the nearest future in my humble opinion induced the South Africans to attack their fellow Africans in South Africa even as they looted their shops and business outlets.

These attacks are in gross contravention of extant provisions of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (UNDHR), 1948 and African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to the effect that we as human beings have the inherent fundamental right to move from one place to another which we commonly refer to as freedom of movement.

A citizen of a particular country has the right to migrate to another country subject to the Immigration Law of the host country. The attack on Nigerians and other African nationals who are legitimately residing in South Africa is illegal. Even if one is illegally residing in a particular country, there are domestic laws of such country to deal with the illegal immigrants and not that the citizens of such country will now take law into their hands.

I am of the humble view that these xenophobic attacks are gradually graduating to genocide and I think the International Criminal Court should beam its search lights on these South African criminals as what they are doing is akin to crimes against humanity.

It bemused a discerning mind that the South African government is giving tacit support to the perpetrators of these orgy of violence or how do we explain the loud silence of the government on this issue? I am of the humble opinion that the Nigerian government is too timid in its approach to these attacks. We should come out clearly on our position on these senseless killings of Nigerians and other African nationals. Or are we saying the giant of Africa is a mere paper tiger? If we remain timid in our approach, the killings will continue with impunity and there may be retaliation in Nigeria and other African countries.

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It will then become an ill wind that blows nobody any good. It is baffling that modern day South Africans are now discarding with the age long Zulu philosophy of “Ubuntu’ which includes the essential human virtues of compassion and humanity and not violence or vengeance. How they got to this unenviable level is what I cannot explain.


Tosin Sunday

The law is always there and my opinion on what is going on in South Africa is that it is clearly a wrong action.

When something is wrong, it is totally wrong and you cannot pay evil with evil. If you are wrong, you cannot use wrong approach toward achieving your goal, and Nigeria should have mature by now. If something is going on in South Africa, Nigeria authority can mediate and look for solution.

Nigerians should be wiser and stronger than attacking the South Africans back. This is not the first time of having issue and we will surely over come it, but Nigerians should follow the legal means of approaching the issue.

There are lots of global implications on both countries, if we talk about shoprite and other investments of South Africans in Nigeria, especially MTN that has the larger population that is contributing to internal revenue of Nigeria, and if Nigerians said they did not want South Africans again and South Africans said she did not want Nigerians also, Nigeria will suffer more because South Africa is more developed than Nigeria.

Olanrewaju Adesanmi

The recent attacks on Nigerians resident in South Africa is absolutely condemnable, disgusting and very disheartening.

Nigeria as a country has contributed immensely in the emancipation of black South Africans. People literarily contributed money, and everything you can think about was done by this country in support of the black South Africans. So it is unfortunate that Nigerians resident in that country are now being subjected to this kind of treatment.

In addition to this, the disturbing part is also the loud silence from the political elites of the South African government. There was a video on the internet showing a minister of the South African government literarily justifying attacks on Nigerians by South Africans as non xenophobic.

I will encourage the Nigerian Government to take serious and drastic diplomatic steps against the South African Government by withdrawing our envoys, place serious and punitive tact restrictions on South African’s investments and all sort.

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We do not descend to gutter with a dog in a fight. Eventually, we will have to take the higher moral ground in our reprisals. So, we cannot go into the gutter with them. It is a dog fight and we are not going to be dragged. We will tackle them diplomatically.

Also, this is a message to the Government because initially at the initiation of this whole thing, it was the irresponsiveness of the Nigerian Government that prompted the people to take laws into their hands. Now it’s almost turning to a rampage. The Nigerian political elites should also take a lesson from this, because people are angry and something very little is going to trigger the tiger in the Nigerians. I think the political elites should do everything to make this country social and politically stable so that there is actually a minimal need for people to travel out of the shores of Nigeria to go and seek succour.

The implication globally, on the South Africans’ part is that it brings them down in the eye of the entire world, not just the African continent. Who will also want to go and invest in a country where they are not receptive to foreigners or non indigenes. Nobody will do that. That is on the part of the South Africans. The UN and the AU are condemning it, people are aborting attending economic forums and all that. Three presidents or more have decided to abandon and not attend the economic forum, artistes are already boycotting booked shows in South Africa. It brings the South Africans down in the international states. Now, for Nigeria, why are Nigerians travelling out in this mass, in this numbers? Why is 97% of the productive ages of Nigerian youths travelling out to Togo?

Ujah Peter

I think that act should be condemned, given the fact that Nigeria have supported the South Africans in all ramifications, we have been very instrumental to the eradication of apartheid regime in the country.

When Nelson Mandela became the President, he appreciated Nigerians, so talking about the fact that Nigerians are being killed in their numbers is despicable, uncalled for and not to be encouraged by anybody. I see no reason why anyone should take anybody’s life.

The only ground upon which you can take somebody’s life is according to a court order such as death sentence by hanging or whichever means, but for fellow human beings to take another man’s life is totally uncalled for and I do not support such. To me, I see no reason why blacks should be killing blacks, not in 2019 for God’s sake. It is despicable.

I have friends in South Africa that I do call and from what I heard, it’s not good at all. They could not even come out. The South Africans do not even want to know if you are a Nigerian or not, as long as you are black and you are not a South African, they just go ahead killing. On my part, I condemn it. I just pray the Federal Government will do something about it.

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The truth of the fact is that I do not believe in reprisal attack. Nigeria is a sovereign entity likewise South Africa and things should be done diplomatically. But even at that, we the human beings, there is what is called adrenaline rush which is painful. We have foreign investments here in Nigeria, MTN, Multichoice, Stanbic IBTC, Shoprite and other multinational investments.

These are foreign direct investments that came in here, floated the company, making money and still take back the money to their country. So I don’t believe in reprisal attack because we might end up criminalising ourselves and causing other things.

There should be laws that say “No” to certain actions. You cannot take laws into your hands. If anybody wrongs you, you can sue the person to court but should not take laws into your own hands. You have to go through normal process. If it is criminal action, you petition the person to the police and from there, such person will be charged to court.

If it is civil, you approach the high court. You cannot take laws into your hands, because by the time you take laws into your hands, if the other person does the needful, you’ll be made to pay for it.

As for me, I do not believe in self-help. With the knowledge I have had about the law, I won’t advise anybody to engage in self-help.

For every action, there is a reaction. The South Africans are killing people over there, looting shops and Nigerians are destroying their facilities. It has financial implications even in terms of bilateral trading and interaction. There is a grave lacuna now between the two countries, because the relationship has been soiled. I believe this is something we can just work out as peaceful nations. Broken bridges can still be mended.

Clement Falana

It is so unfortunate that this thing is happening to Nigerians, even within Africa. If we are to look at South Africa and Nigeria, the two countries have been coming for a long time.

We have international laws that speak against the act, human rights should not be violated. We also have international law that speaks against the attack on a foreigner in a foreign land.

So far, the fact that we find ourselves in another country should not mean we should be treated badly.

Reprisal attack should not be done in a situation like this, we are in a civilised world, the fact that they are treating Nigerians badly does not mean we Nigerians should do the same.

South Africa and Nigeria belong to AU, (AFRICA UNION). Sanctions can be imposed on them, so this organisation can take a stand and impose sanctions, attacking them won’t solve the problem, it will only damage our image as Nigerians.

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