The President gave the directive to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, after receiving the report from the special envoy to the country over the attacks.
Nigeria’s Consul General in Johannesburg, Godwin Adama, confirmed at the weekend that over 400 Nigerians have already indicated interest and registered to be evacuated from South Africa following the recent xenophobic attacks.
Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Femi Adesina, in a statement yesterday, said: “President Buhari has also given instruction for the immediate voluntary evacuation of all Nigerians who are willing to return home.”
Adesina recalled that: “In the wake of the xenophobic attacks by South Africans against other Africans including Nigerians, President Buhari sent Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, Director-General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA) as his Special Envoy to South Africa, to convey a Special Message to his counterpart, President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“The Special Envoy, who was in Pretoria from Thursday, 5th to Saturday, 7th September 2019 conveyed the deep concern of President Buhari and Nigerians about intermittent violence against Nigerians and their property/business interests in South Africa.
“President Buhari stressed the need for South African Government to take visible measures to stop violence against citizens of brotherly African nations.
“President Buhari is worried that the recurring issue of xenophobia could negatively affect the image and standing of South Africa as one of the leading countries on the continent, if nothing is done to stop it.”
According to the presidential spokesman, the Special Envoy conveyed the assurance of President Buhari that the Nigerian Government is ready and willing to collaborate with the South African Government to find a lasting solution to the involvement of few Nigerians in criminal activities, and to protect the lives and property of the larger groups of other law abiding Nigerians and, indeed, Africans in general, against all forms of attacks, including xenophobia.
He said President Buhari further assured that the Nigerian Government will guarantee the safety of lives, property and business interests of South Africans in Nigeria.
Adesina disclosed that the envoy reported to Buhari that President Ramaphosa agreed that the violence was most disconcerting and embarrassing, adding that his government completely rejects such acts, which undermines not only the country’s image, but also its relations with brotherly African countries.
He said: “President Ramaphosa reaffirmed his stand against criminality and committed to do everything possible to protect the rights of every Nigerian and other foreign nationals in the country.
“The Special Envoy also interfaced with his South African counterpart, where they reviewed the situation of foreign emigrants in general and Nigerians in particular. They agreed to work together to find a permanent solution to the root causes of the recurring attacks on Nigerians and their property.”
The presidential aide added that President Buhari has taken note of the report and instructed the Minister of Foreign Affairs to continue to engage with appropriate authorities on the concrete measure the South African Government is expected to take.