Ambassador Ahmed Abubakar, the special envoy sent to South Africa by President Muhammadu Buhari over the renewed xenophobic attacks, has returned to Nigeria.
Abubakar met with South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, in the wake of the attacks Nigerians and other foreigners in the former apartheid country.
It was learned that Abubakar held a closed-door meeting with President Ramaphosa on Friday afternoon, conveying President Buhari’s concern over recent events in South Africa.
President Ramaphosa, after the meeting, reaffirmed his country’s relationship with Nigeria, insisting that it remained firm and strong.
Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, had on Friday told federal lawmakers that the country was not thinking about breaking diplomatic relations with South Africa because it would not be in the interest of Nigerians living there.
Onyeama made this known when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Diaspora in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
“We are not thinking to the stage of diplomatic ties called off. There are various options. We are not by any means at a stage where we are breaking diplomatic relations with South Africa,” Onyeama told newsmen.
There has been tension between the two countries over renewed xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other Africans in South Africa.
Assets belonging to Nigerians in South Africa have been targeted, triggering retaliatory attacks against South Africa-linked businesses in parts of Lagos, Ibadan, and the capital – Abuja.
On Tuesday this week, Onyeama summoned the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, Bobby Moroe, over the attacks, before President Muhammadu Buhari sent an envoy to the country over the issue.
But the Nigerian government has since cautioned its citizens to stop such attacks.
The minister also dismissed reports that Nigerians have been killed in South Africa.
“We know for a fact that no Nigerian life has been lost so we are extremely concerned now to ensure that there will be adequate compensation for property that have been damaged,” he said.
“It has been happening for far too long, it’s becoming almost endemic, so with the distinguished senators, are helping with some of the options that we may have to ensure that this will be the last time we will ever be meeting to talk about Nigerians attacked in South Africa and to take definitive measures.”
Meanwhile, South African authorities say they are responding promptly to curb the violence. More than 70 persons have been reportedly taken into custody since Monday.