A cross section of Nigerians living in South Africa narrowly escaped death on Saturday during attacks on their lives and property in South Africa.
Several of them relived their encounter with locals who assailed them in their apartments in various parts of Pretoria with machetes, knives, metal rods and guns.
Worried by the development, members of the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Relations, sought more dialogue between Nigeria and the authorities in South Africa over the rising incidents.
About 100 Nigerians have been reported killed in South Africa in the last two years.
Most of the deaths resulted from violence against Nigerians by fellow black South Africans in neighbourhoods and city centres.
However, there were instances where the police clobbered defenceless Nigerians to death on suspicion of being involved in criminality.
Speaking in Abuja, the Chairman of the committee, Ms. Nnena Ukeje, said that there was a huge gap of lack of understanding between South Africans and their fellow black Nigerians, which must be addressed.
A boutique owner, Uchechi Okon, said on Saturday that the attacks in his neighbourhood of Rosazitta Street, Pretoria West lasted from 8.30 am to 4 pm.
Okon, who has spent 10 years in South Africa, said, “Everything happened in a flash. They said they were looking for Nigerians selling drugs. I was sleeping. The next thing I heard was loud banging on the gate. The apartment I stay in one of two. My Nigerian roommate and I occupy the building in front, while the back was occupied by the family of my white landlord.
“A mob of South African women and men were forcing the gate open. We ran to the back of the premises to hide. By then, they had broken the door down and come into the compound. They said they were looking for the Nigerians that lived there, but my white landlady was shouting back that there was no Nigerian living there.
“They came with all kinds of weapons—knives, rods and so on. I heard later that they shot people in similar attacks, but I couldn’t see if they had guns. I was peeping through the window. It happened between 8.30 am and 4 pm. They went from house to house.”
He added, “When they didn’t see us, they stole all our properties and burnt my apartment with my clothes. Right now, I don’t have a passport. I don’t know whether they stole it or it got burnt down with the rest of my clothes and other belongings. I am now living in my car. The only clothes I have are the ones on my back.”
Segun Adegoke, a four-year resident in South Africa, told our correspondent that at Church and Rebecca, the attacks took place 20 metres from a police station.
Adegoke, a friend of Nigerians occupying the building, said, “Our people went to the police station. The police said they should wait for people who were in charge of the matter before they would come to their aid. Nigerians locked the gate to that apartment building called Daily Word where the looting took place.
“More than 20 apartments in that building were looted. People’s passports, TV sets, and travelling bags containing heir clothes were taken away. Police officers were on the ground when all of this took place. When they (Nigerians) locked that gate, they refused entrance of the police into the building. The exact words of the police officers were, ‘Why won’t you people go back home?’”
“A man and his wife had machete cuts on their hands. They have two kids, three and eight years old. A pastor was also attacked with machetes,” Adegoke added
The Secretary General, Nigerian Union South Africa, Adetola Olubajo, said that the attacks began two weeks ago.
He said, “It all started in Johannesburg. They attacked an organised community and 29 cars were burnt down. We were there with the minister of home affairs to have a security walkabout. That subsided, then we started hearing and seeing notices that these people wanted to attack foreigners, Nigerians in particular on February 23 and 24. So, we have been telling our people to be vigilant.
“Nigerians are on the verge of fighting back, because their lives are in danger. These attackers are not here to scare anybody. They are here to kill. I have seen them strike before. Some of them (Nigerians) have kids. Their entire lives are here.”
Olubajo stated that apartments are commonly looted before being burnt down.
According to him, the attacks are carried out under the watchful eye of the police.
“Some of our people said the police were looting with them, which is what we have seen before. It is not the first time that we are seeing the police, who are supposed to be protecting us, looting with the hoodlums.
“The most annoying thing is that our mission here is about 5km from the scene of the attacks. But none of them is coming to do anything, while the embassies of other nationals, who have not been attacked, have demonstrated their assistance.
“We have informed the High Commission of Nigeria, but they are not coming out. Some have even called the High Commissioner,” he added.
Ukeje said in Abuja that the development should be handled through intensified dialogue between the Federal Government and the South African Government on the need for the latter to pursue deliberate policies of educating South Africans to be welcoming.
SERAP Urges FG to Slash Politicians’ Allowances
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the Chairman of Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), Elias Mbam, to urgently review upward the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for Nigerian Judges, and reduce the remuneration of President Muhammadu Buhari and other political office-holders in order to address the persistent poor treatment of Judges, and improve access of victims of corruption to justice.
The appeal came on the heels of a nationwide industrial action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to press home their demand for financial autonomy for the judicial arm of government, and the federal government silence on the judiciary workers’ strike that has grounded court activities across the country.
In a letter dated April 10, 2021, which was signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said Judges should get all they are reasonably entitled to, and that it is unfair, illegal, unconstitutional, and discriminatory to continue to treat Judges as second-class people, while high-ranking political office holders enjoy lavish salaries and allowances.
SERAP expressed concern that the remuneration and allowances of Judges have fallen substantially behind the average salaries and allowances of political office-holders such as president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as members of the National Assembly.
The letter read in part: “According to our information, the last review of the remuneration, allowances, and conditions of service for political, public and judicial office holders carried out by RMAFC in 2009 shows huge disparity between the remuneration and allowances of judges and those of political office holders.
“Judges’ work is very considerable but they cannot give their entire time to their judicial duties without the RMAFC reviewing upward their remuneration and allowances, and closing the gap and disparity between the salaries of judges and those of political office holders such as the president, vice-president, governors and their deputies, as well as lawmakers.
“We would therefore be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the RMAFC to comply with our requests.”
COVAX Delivered 38m Vaccine Doses To Over 100 Countries, Says WHO
The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday announced that more than 100 countries have received life-saving COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, the global mechanism for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
It said the milestone comes 42 days after the first COVAX doses were shipped and delivered internationally, to Ghana on February 24th.
In a statement, the United Nations’ Agency revealed that COVAX has now delivered more than 38 million doses across six continents, supplied by three manufacturers – AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Of the over 100 economies reached, 61 are among the 92 lower-income economies receiving vaccines funded through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).
It, however, said despite reduced supply availability in March and April – the result of vaccine manufacturers scaling and optimising their production processes in the early phase of the rollout, as well as increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines in India – COVAX expects to deliver doses to all participating economies that have requested vaccines in the first half of the year.
According to the CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Dr. Seth Berkley, “In under four months since the very first mass vaccination outside a clinical setting anywhere in the world, it is tremendously gratifying that the roll-out of COVAX doses has already reached 100 countries.
“COVAX may be on track to deliver to all participating economies in the first half of the year yet we still face a daunting challenge as we seek to end the acute stage of the pandemic: we will only be safe when everybody is safe and our efforts to rapidly accelerate the volume of doses depend on the continued support of governments and vaccine manufacturers. As we continue with the largest and most rapid global vaccine rollout in history, this is no time for complacency.”
The WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “COVAX has given the world the best way to ensure the fastest, most equitable rollout of safe and effective vaccines to all at-risk people in every country on the planet.
“If we are going to realise this great opportunity, countries, producers and the international system must come together to prioritise vaccine supply through COVAX. Our collective future, literally, depends on it.”
Approved Ibom Deep Sea Port, Proposed $1.4B Fertilizer Plant Will Change Akwa Ibom’s Economic Status – Gov. Udom
Akwa Ibom State Government has said the approved Ibom Deep Seaport and the proposed $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia Plant are expected to change the economic status of the state.
The State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, made the assertion in an Easter message to the people of the state.
He maintained that with the recent approval and take off of the federal government’s approved Oil and Gas Free Zone and the ongoing construction of the Sterling Petrochemical Plant at Eastern Obolo, the state would be ready to dump its status as a civil service state.
The governor said the fertilizer and ammonia plants should be supported by all indegenes and residents irrespective of political affiliation because of its capacity to change the economic fortunes of the state.
The governor who commended President Muhammadu Buhari for approving the industrial projects in the state said construction work on the Ibom Deep Seaport would commence very soon.
“In recent past, we have been blessed with life-changing projects such as Sterling Petrochemical Plant in Eastern Obolo, where construction is in an advanced stage.
“Two months ago, the Federal Executive Council, (FEC) approved the license for us to commence the construction of our long desired Ibom Deep Seaport. Work would soon commence on this gigantic project. These are huge achievements for our State and our people.
“Ibom Deep Seaport will open up our economic fortunes; create employment and wealth opportunities for our people and throw open our State as a major maritime hub in our nation.
“We thank the President and the Commander in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) for this kind approval,” he said.
Continuing, Emmanuel said: “About three weeks ago, we signed a $1.4 billion Fertilizer and Ammonia plant with our Moroccan counterparts. The plant will again create huge employment and other supply chain activities for our people, which will transform us from a civil service oriented state to a fast industrialising one.
“These are huge achievements that should gladden the hearts of every Akwa Ibomite irrespective of political affiliations.”
He reminded the people of the state that the essence of Easter would be lost if the resurrection of Christ is not allowed to illuminate their souls through love and sacrifice to one another.
“Let the fishermen in the ocean fronts of Mbo, Okobo, Eastern Obolo and Ibeno love one another. Let the farmers in the rice plantations at Ini, Ikono, Ika, Onna and Nsit Ibom love one another.
“Let the civil servants and public servants, politicians in all political parties, members of all denominations, preachers of all faiths, love one another.
“When we let love drive our every action and every thought, when we let it drip from our lips and from our hands, then shall the joy of Easter be complete, and our State shall surely attain the lofty height set for it by our ancestors when they named it Akwa Abasi Ibom State.” the Governor stated.
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