Despite Nigeria’s official recall of its High Commissioner to South Africa, in protest of the rising xenophobic attacks on foreigners, the South African government, Sunday, assured that it remained committed to maintaining friendly relations with Nigeria.
South Africa, in a statement issued by its Department of International Relations, however, said it would formally register its concerns with Nigeria’s new administration of General Muhammadu Buhari when it assumes office next month.
President Goodluck Jonathan had in Abuja, Saturday, directed the recall of Nigeria’s Acting High Commissioner to South Africa, Martin Cobham as well as the Deputy High Commissioner, Uche Ajulu-Okeke for talks that will centre on the xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa.
The recall follows the lawmakers request for the presidency to recall the envoy for consultations.
At least seven people have been killed over the last month in a wave of anti-immigrant violence centred on areas of Durban and Johannesburg.
South Africa has been criticized by several governments, including China, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, for failing to protect foreigners from armed mobs. Nigeria is the only country to have recalled its High Commissioner, the South African department of International Relations said in a statement.
“If this action is based on the incidents of attacks on foreign nationals in some parts of our country, it would be curious for a sisterly country to want to exploit such a painful episode for whatever agenda,” the department said.
“South Africa remains committed to a strong bond of friendship and bilateral relations with Nigeria,” it added.
It would also be recalled that earlier last week, Nigeria had summoned South Africa’s High Commissioner over the unrest as protesters picketed the South African High Consulate in Lagos. A Nigerian group has called for the International Criminal Court to investigate Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini for “hate speech“.
South Africa has deployed troops to try to quell the xenophobic attacks, after criticism by nations including China and Zimbabwe for failing to protect their citizens against armed mobs.
Eight Nigerians had declared interest in leaving the country, according to Ajulu-Okeke.