The speaker of the house of representatives, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila has said that the lawmakers are united in the call for the revocation of diplomatic ties with South Africa in view of the recent xenophobic assault on Nigerians living in that country.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Friday, Gbajabiamila said the lawmakers would explore all possible means to seek redress to the injustice meted out on Nigerians adding that Nigeria was tired evacuating its citizens in body bags from South Africa.
“We do not intend to speak many words here today. The time for speaking has long passed, and the time for action has arrived upon us with a fierce urgency demanding nothing less than our total commitment to revoking the old arrangements that have made such abominations against our people possible.
“It is unusual for the full complement of the house leadership to come out and stand together for a joint conference, however, this moment calls for unusual things. We stand before you as one body, across party lines, representatives of the entire house in our joint task towards nation-building.
“The house of representatives is united and determined in its resolve to meet our people at the point of their grievance and to channel grievance into constructive action. Let no one be left in any doubt, we will seek, and we will obtain by whatever means available, due restoration and recompense for all that has been lost in this latest conflagration and all the ones that have come before,” he said.
“We are committed to a sustained and special effort to see that the ends of justice are met for all our people who have suffered. We have heard the cries of our citizens, and we have witnessed their devastation. We will mourn for the dead, and cry for the lost, but we will not stop there”.
He said Nigeria had demonstrated its 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.
He added that Nigeria’s commitment had always been to the advancement of Africa, freedom in all lands and prosperity for all African peoples.
“Yet, today and too many a time, we are called to stand as pallbearers, bringing home to bury 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 heart.
“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 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,’’ he said.
The speaker said those who are tempted to respond to the latest incidents with violence and destruction in communities should resist such temptation.
“We will honour the lives of our fallen brothers by making sure that never again will our citizens’ inalienable right to life and liberty be so wantonly denied here at home or anywhere else in the world.
“We will honour the sacrifice of the fallen by devoting ourselves once more to a covenant of service to one another, certain in the knowledge that our greatest protection against such harms is peace, progress and prosperity in the homeland,” he said.
The speaker commends the actions so far taken by the federal government through the minister of foreign affairs in communicating the government’s extreme displeasure at what has occurred.
He urged the government to 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 the unfortunate event.
“We ought no longer to wait until our people are caught in the foulest manifestations of these events before we take necessary action to protect them.
“There have been reports that state actors may have participated in the worst acts of violence; sometimes actively, at other times by standing and doing nothing whilst murder and mayhem was unleashed.
“We expect that the government of the Republic of South Africa will conduct a thorough investigation into these allegations and make public their findings whatever they may be.
“Where any of these claims are determined to be true, we expect also that the individuals responsible will be held accountable to the highest degree allowed by law,” he said.
With NAN report