Archbishop Martins Condemns Xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa
– Says it is an attack on African brotherhood and the ideals of Pan-Africanism! “This is not what Nelson Mandela labored for”. Admonishes Nigerian youths to shun reprisal attacks.
The Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins has condemned in very strong terms the continuous attacks on Nigerians in particular and other Africans in South Africa, describing such attacks as barbaric, reprehensible and an attack on the very core of African brotherhood.
Reacting to the recent onslaught on Nigerians by some South African nationals which led to the loss of lives of Nigerians and nationals of other African countries as well as the vandalization and looting of their several business interests in the country, the Prelate described as too little and ineffective the manner the Federal Government has handled the issue.
In a release signed by the Acting Director of Social Communications, Rev Fr Anthony Godonu, Archbishop Martins noted that the failure of the Federal Government to decisively deal with the issue using very strong diplomatic means continues to embolden the perpetrators and makes the South African government not to do enough to stem the tide of the attacks. That South African Police officials are seen publicly rousing peoples’ anger against foreigners in their country without any visible repercussion gives an impression of some official endorsement of the mob action and our government needs to pursue this to its logical conclusion.
“It is the responsibility of every government to protect the lives and properties of its citizens within and outside the country. Any attack on Nigerian citizens should elicit a swift response from the government not to talk of them being killed with impunity.
“The insufficient response of our Government in confronting the matter with the seriousness it deserves does not project us in a good light as a country that cares enough for the welfare of its citizens. My fear is that if decisive diplomatic measures are not taken now, this matter may go out of hand with enormous consequences for all.”
Recalling the frontline role Nigeria played in bringing an end to the obnoxious apartheid policy in South Africa, and the enormous financial and human resources deployed for that purpose, Archbishop Martins wondered why fellow blacks who had, and are still benefiting from their relationship with our nation have chosen to pay us back by unleashing so much violence against our citizens. This is not the kind of South Africa that Nelson Mandela labored for”
He further said, “this marks another wake-up call for our leaders to work even more assiduously so that the social and economic situation of our nation can be better such migration of our nationals, legal or illegal, can be reduced and if people who migrate get badly treated, they can come back home fully assured that they would be in good stead.”
The Archbishop however urged Nigerians in South Africa to continue to ensure that they present the nation in a good light, going about only legitimate businesses and professions. In his own words, “I urge Nigerians in South Africa to go about only lawful activities in the country and desist from criminal actions that tarnish the image of the country.”
He also appealed to youths in Nigeria to continue to show restraint and allow the relevant government agencies to exhaust all diplomatic means geared at stopping the attacks and bringing the perpetrators to book as soon as possible.
He discouraged any form of reprisal attacks on organizations owned by South Africans in Nigeria, saying that it does not offer any solution to the problem. In his words: “when we give in to the urge to engage in reprisal attacks, how different are we from those perpetuate these crimes against humanity? An eye for an eye eventually leaves everyone blind”