The Nigerian government may take legal action against the South African government over the xenophobic attacks on its citizens.
Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyeama told The Guardian that the West African country has not ruled anything out for now when asked if Nigeria will sue South Africa.
“We cannot rule anything out for now,” Akinyemi told The Guardian’s Marcel Mbamalu.
He, however, added that the country is yet to make a decision.
The latest wave of xenophobic violence and attacks in South Africa has resulted in a growing exodus of Nigerians. More than 12 people were killed, and South Africa police said more than 700 people have been arrested.
There have been reprisal responses from both Nigerians – attacking South African affiliated companies in Nigeria- and the Nigerian government which recalled its South Africa ambassador and also boycotted the World Economic Forum Africa hosted in Cape Town last week.
Nigeria has also begun repatriating more than 600 of its citizens from South Africa, courtesy of a private Nigerian airline, Air Peace which volunteered to fly people for free back to Lagos.
A flight carrying 189 Nigerians landed in the Lagos late Wednesday, with some of those onboard, punching the air and singing the national anthem while waving pictures of burnt shops.
“I ran for my life, they would have killed me,” Samson Aliyu, a clothes seller who lived in South Africa for two years, told AFP.
“They burnt my shop, everything,” he added.
A second flight departs on Thursday or Friday with 640 Nigerians in total fleeing the country.
Precious Oluchi Mbabie, a 35-year-old Nigerian woman who worked as a fashion designer and seamstress in a Johannesburg suburb, boarded the flight with her three children, leaving her husband behind.
“We agreed that it is better I go back home with the children,” Mbabie Al-Jazeera.
She and her family live in Rosettenville, one of the first areas to be affected by the violence.
“Where we are staying is very dangerous because of xenophobia,” she said. “They say they don’t want any foreigners there.”
Nigerian president’s adviser on diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa said the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, which she chairs, “will be in touch with the returnees and ensure a successful re-integration.”
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