The South African Government has deported 97 Nigerians alleged to have committed various offences in the rainbow nation. The deportees landed at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos on Monday night from Johannesburg in a chartered aircraft with registration number, GBB710.
The spokesperson for the Lagos Airport Police Command, DSP Joseph Alabi, confirmed that the deportees comprised 95 males and two females.
An immigration source told the News Agency of Nigeria on condition of anonymity that six of the deportees were returned to the country for drug offences while 10 were arrested and deported for other criminal offences. The others were said to have committed immigration offences in South Africa.
All the deportees were profiled by officials of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) while those deported for drug-related offences were handed over to the Police for further investigation.
The Nigerian Government had also on Monday evacuated 41 Nigerian girls who were trafficked to Mali for sex and labour exploitation. Six of the suspected human traffickers apprehended and brought back to the country are to face prosecution.
Nigerian lawmakers to intervene
Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, PDP, Enugu West is to lead a seven- member delegation of the Senate to South Africa following the return of Xenophobic attacks in which Nigerians have been attacked, injured and their property destroyed.
Other members of the Senate team to engage their fellow parliamentarians on the matter as announced by Senate President Bukola Saraki during plenary on Wednesday are Senate leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, APC, Yobe North; Senate Chief Whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye, APC, Osun Central; Senator Shehu Sani, APC, Kaduna Central; Senator Magnus Abe, APC, Rivers East and Senator Stella Oduah, PDP, Anambra North.
The Nigerian Senate resolved on Tuesday to send the delegation to engage with their fellow parliamentarians on the recent attacks on Nigerians and what it described as extra-judicial killings of Nigerians by the South African police and by South African citizens.
Voice of Nigeria’s Senate correspondent reports that the decision followed a motion sponsored by Senator Rose Oko at plenary. Consequently, the Senate advised the federal government to reconsider Nigeria’s diplomatic ties with South Africa, with a view to averting the recurrent cases of xenophobic attacks and extra-judicial killings of Nigerians in the southern African country.
Senator Oko recalled that on February 18, 2017, South Africans attacked and looted businesses belonging to Nigerians in Pretoria, pointing out that the acts violated Article 5 of the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights which she said provided that “no one shall be subject to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”
She also recalled that in 2016, 20 Nigerians were killed under similar circumstances over allegations of drug trafficking without recourse to legal processes and the principle of fair hearing.
Thereafter, the joint committee of the Senate and House of Representatives on Foreign Affairs met with officials of the Foreign Affairs Ministry led by the Minister of state, Mrs Khadijat Abba Ibrahim, who briefed the lawmakers on what Nigeria is doing about the South African issue.
Analysts believe that the deportation is not coincidental as the Mayor of Johannesburg, Mr. Herman Mashaba had this week reiterated his determination to rid the country’s commercial nerve centre of criminal elements supposedly made up of undocumented immigrants.
Mashaba is reportedly continuing his “clean-up” crusade in Johannesburg. Bloomberg reports that Mashaba is planning a “shock and awe” campaign to return “hijacked” buildings to their owners.
Bloomberg says it has seen documents which detail a forensic unit’s plans to “adopt the ‘shock and awe’ doctrine” based “on the use of overwhelming power and spectacular display of force to paralyse the enemy’s perception of the battlefield and destroy its will to fight.” It said that the strategy was used by US forces in Iraq.
Mashaba has faced serious criticism for referring to undocumented migrants as criminals with overseas media noting how he is “channelling his inner Trump“.
Former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, earlier this week condemned the attacks on immigrants, pointing out that none of the socio-economic challenges facing South Africa “can or will be solved by attacking the fellow Africans who have joined us as migrants.”