The House of Representatives has called on Nigerians to remain calm despite the renewed xenophobic attacks on Nigerian citizens resident in South Africa.
Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, who said this during a world press conference on Friday in Abuja, said the House would ensure that compensation is paid and justice is done for Nigerians that lost their lives and property during the attacks.
Immediately after the world press conference, Speaker Gbajabiamila met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa over the xenophobic attacks.
Accompanied by the Deputy Speaker Rt. Hon. Ahmed Idris Wase and other principal officers of the House to the press conference, Speaker Gbajabiamila said the South African government must probe the recent attacks on Nigerians and make public findings of the probe.
The House, the Speaker said, is ready to authorize legal funding for Nigerians who wish to take legal action against identified perpetrators of the violence and their sponsors.
“Nigerians have long travelled far and wide in search of knowledge, of experience and prosperity. As we have travelled, we have opened also our borders to those who will seek their greener pastures here. In Africa, we have demonstrated our commitment to the brotherhood of nations, sacrificing life, labour and wealth to achieve peace and restore freedom from Sierra Leone to Liberia, Sao Tome to South Africa. We have sought nothing in return, we have made no claims to the land and resources of our brothers. Our commitment has always has been to the advancement of Africa, to freedom in all our lands and prosperity for all our peoples.
“Yet today and too many a time, we are called to stand as pallbearers, bringing home to burial the bodies of our brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, our children, savaged and decimated. What is their offence? That they dared to dream of glory and profit beyond our borders, and having dreamt, they endeavoured to make real the visions of their hearts. We did not provoke, nor do we deserve the violence that has been visited on our people in South Africa.
“We reject entirely the obvious attempt to change the true narrative of events by casting the recently organised acts of violence as a merely internecine conflict between gangs fighting for turf. Unless it is the position of South African government that all Nigerians living in South Africa are gangsters and criminals, we demand that they reject these claims without equivocation. The vile images of violent devastation and death randomly visited on innocent people seeking their way in the world, strikes at our heart, causing pain that words alone cannot express. Let no one add insult to our grief.
“To every citizen of Nigeria in every city and every state who has watched recent events with rising anger and pain, we in the House of Representatives, are with you. To those who are sorely tempted to respond to these latest incidents with violence on our streets and destruction in our communities, I call on you to resist all such temptation. Your anger is justified, your pain is rightly felt but we cannot honour the memory of our fallen citizens by setting our streets aflame and our houses asunder.
The House commended the actions taken so far by President Muhammadu Buhari in communicating the government’s “extreme displeasure at what has occurred and taking action to see to the return of those of our citizens who are willing to come home at this time.
“We will further ask that the President direct the Ministry of Health to assist the families of the bereaved in expediting the return of loved ones who have lost their lives in these unfortunate events.
The Speaker also said that the House would invite the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Nigerian High Commissioner to South Africa, the chairman of the Nigeria Diaspora Commission and other stakeholders to ascertain the real causes of the attacks.
“We intend not only to determine the causes of these latest events but also to assess and account for the losses in life and property that have occurred. This will allow the government to more accurately demand reparations to compensate our citizens who suffered in this recent orgy of violence.