Geoffrey Onyema, foreign affairs minister, has said that only a “tiny minority” of Nigerians living in South Africa are affected by xenophobic attacks.
Speaking on Saturday during an interview on Arise TV, the minister said most Nigerians in South Africa were living in peace and doing well.
“The South African government condemned everything that’s gone on and they felt very bad about it because they themselves acknowledged the role that Nigeria played in the dark days of apartheid and so feel very ashamed about what happened,” he said.
“Well, figures are always not correct but, you know, the reality is a tiny minority of Nigerians have been actually affected. The vast, large numbers of Nigerians in South Africa are living in peace, doing extremely well, contributing well to the country.
“When you quote a figure of 20 and then you also say about 800, 000 living there, it’s not true in anyway. It’s not any consolation even if it’s one person that is killed, it’s relatively not small.”
Onyeama said the federal government chose to create an early warning unit comprising the South African police and representatives of Nigerians so as to detect signs of potential attacks.
“This unit we are building, we have the South African police represented there, the South African home affairs ministry, which has political oversight over the police, the Ministry of Foreign affairs. Then, on the Nigerian side, sitting on the same table, the Nigerian High Commission, the Nigerian Consulate and the Nigerian Union and some South Africans.
“This will be a mechanism or forum in which they could speak to each other directly and so if there were signs of imminent attacks or whatsoever, it could be addressed,” he said.