Former Minister for Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama has said that a bi-national meeting at the level of Presidents will tackle the spate of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians living in South Africa.
Onyeama said this while responding to a question by the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, during his screening as a ministerial nominee at the Senate on Monday.
He added that the Nigerian Government also needs to hold high-level engagement with South African authorities to curb the menace.
“What I believe is the issue, is really one of communication and direct oversight of law enforcement agencies in South Africa. This seems to be the real problem for Nigerians in South Africa.
“We have set up a bi-national meeting at the level of Presidents, so it’s important that we organise very quickly the next meeting, so this matter can also be addressed so it becomes an issue addressed with political will and by the highest level of government of South Africa.”
He added that after consultation with members of the union of Nigerians living in South Africa, the trust deficit between them and the South African police remained an issue, which has made a cordial working relationship between both parties suffer.
“Members of the union told me that the problem they were having is that they know the criminal elements among the Nigerian community and they will like a situation where they can go to the law enforcement agencies to alert them of those criminals so that actions can be taken quickly, but because of the trust deficit between the Nigerians and the South Africa police, they are not able to work with the authorities.
“There has to be a hotline between myself if re-appointed, and the ministry of foreign affairs of South Africa. Once there is any sign of problems on any Nigerian, to get it immediately across to the highest level of government in South Africa to engage with our high commission to start addressing the issue.
“The higher echelon of the police in South Africa can engage directly with the Nigerian Union of South Africa and this is a framework I tried to create. To sign this MoU, we need high-level engagement with them.”