Politics

How Nigerian Government can stop killings of Nigerians in South Africa, India and other countries

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The spate of unlawful killings of Nigerians overseas is becoming more worrisome every day, particularly in South Africa where Nigerians are being killed on monthly basis. After scanty reaction from Nigerian authority whenever such killing happens no actionable step is taken to stop its reoccurrence.

The latest killing on October 10, 2017 of a 25-year old Nigerian Ibrahim Badmus in South Africa by South African police makes it seems like a state sponsored killing against Nigerian nationals in the former apartheid country. According to the deceased neighbor, Steve Lumbwe, who spoke on Channels Television, the police broke into Badmus apartment accusing him of drug, handcuffed him, and put a kind of paper substance around Badmus face.

Lumbwe, who heard Badmus cry for help and came to tell the police that Badmus wasn’t into drug, but they wouldn’t listen. Rather they threatened to arrest him if he impedes them from carrying out their responsibility.

Steve Lumbwe said he later saw lifeless body of Badmus on the floor, but his attackers claimed that he fainted and that ambulance had been called to resuscitate him. Medics confirmed him dead on arrival. I suspect that substance believed to contain chemical had been used on the young Nigerian to quicken his death.

I don’t think Badmus could resist arrest considering the number of armed South African police officers that was reported to have invaded his apartment in commando style.

I’ve seen video clip clips of xenophobic attack against Nigerians where South African police watch as innocent Nigerians are killed. What exactly could be the motive behind the killing of fellow Africans in another African country is still unknown; some analysts have called it envy and hatred, though.

Whatever the motive is, a country whose nationals are being killed arbitrarily has a huge role to play to making sure that such act stopped forthwith. Nigeria has a role to play if it really cares about the safety of its nationals in any part of the World.

Unlike Nigeria, United States, Britain, Russia are known to protect lives of their nationals living in another country. For instance, when a US national is killed in another country US government swiftly react within minutes and call for possible sanctions on the host country if US government suspects that it’s a state sponsored killing, or when the government of the country where the killing was carried out doesn’t take appropriate measures to bring the perpetrator to justice.

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South Africa isn’t the only country where Nigerians are easy targets. In India Nigerians are arbitrarily attacked without proper monitoring of the case to ensure that justice is done. Nigerian government’s indifference to such gruesome killings could be one of the reasons Nigerians are easy prey in un-hospitable countries where they are seen as competitions.

For Nigeria to protect the lives of its nationals in South Africa, India, and other parts of the World, the government must take the following steps to stop the killings of innocent Nigerians abroad:

Nigerian consulate should constitute independent investigators in collaboration with the host country

South African authorities promised to investigate occurrences of attack and killings of Nigerians, but no one ever get to hear about the outcome of such investigation, or any actionable punishment imposed on the perpetrators. Xenophobic attacks are synonymous to South Africa. It used to be attack by the whites against the blacks in that country, but it suddenly changed. It’s now against other nationals, particularly against industrious Nigerians on their land. Some of them once accused Nigerians of taking their jobs.

Again, I’d make reference to the US. Since the 1980s, the US government via FBI has worked in some instances where its nationals’ security is at risk. Some of them include:

  • Athens, after a rocket-propelled grenade was fired into the U.S. Embassy (2007);
  • Gaza, negotiating for the release of an American reporter and his cameraman (2006);
  • London, working with our British partners after a coordinated terrorist attack on the London subway that also wounded numerous U.S. citizens (2005);
  • Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, after explosions at several compounds that housed Americans (2003).

Those moves by US government mean love and care about its nationals.

No particular measure has been taken by the FG to show commitment that it cares about the lives of its citizens in other countries. For Nigerian government to stop the avoidable killing of Nigerian in South Africa and other parts of the world, it needs to set up its own independent panel of investigators to work with the panel set up by the host country to unravel the remote and immediate causes of such inhumane act, and measures put in place to end it.

Issue security warnings to its nationals

Nigerian government should learn from the United States government by issuing strong warnings to its citizens about a country it thinks the security of its nationals is at high risk. It’s an age of globalization, we see Nigerians travelling abroad for greener pastures. But it’s also the responsibility of a responsible government to be on red alert about security threat in all part of the world. The essence of this is for it to warn its citizens in a situation where it thinks it nationals might be harmed in a country where there is internal crises, election violence, xenophobic attacks etc.

US government issued security warning to its nationals about travelling to Kenya between 2007/2008 when post election violence nearly plunged that country into a civil war. The same warnings had been issued in the past about travelling to Sudan, Northern part of Nigeria, and Libya. Nigerian government should begin to show love, should begin to let the entire world knows that it cares about the safety of its citizens, not just within, but in other countries of the world.

For instance, “when Americans are seriously harmed overseas, the appropriate U.S. government agencies (FBI) quickly pull together a coordinated response to the incident.”

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Of course, the FBI doesn’t go uninvited into another country—they get permission from the host government and always work with that nation’s law enforcement and security personnel, in concert with the U.S. Embassy and the Ambassador to investigate matters relating to violation of rights of US nationals in another country.

Can Nigerian government begin to do the same?

Impose sanctions on country that indirectly sponsor killing of Nigerians

“You can’t claim to love me while you hate my children,” goes the Yoruba saying. All the country that treat Nigerians in their country without dignity have ambassadors, high commissioners in Nigeria, and they all claim that their country is ever ready to work with Nigeria. Ironically, Nigerians back in their home country are illegally killed with no respect to right to life, with no regard to agreement between their country and Nigeria.

This must stop. Nigeria government has a huge role to play to stop such carnage. Most of the countries have huge investments in Nigeria. The incentives their country enjoys as investor could be reduced until they assure Nigerian government safety of Nigerians in their country.

If you think it’d be hostile to withdraw incentives given to investors in Nigeria, then granting some of them tax holidays hasn’t helped either to stop the avoidable killings of Nigerians in their country.

Nigerian government should have Legal Attaché in foreign embassy

I’m not 100% sure if Nigerian government has legal attaché in its embassies and high commissions abroad. And if they do it needs to be upgraded so that the unit will work with Nigerian representative and the entire embassy in the host country to handle and assist in cases that involve inhumane treatment of Nigerians overseas.

We understand the fact that Nigerian government has repeatedly warned its nationals to desist from drug, particularly in countries that have capital punishment for drug, but it mustn’t fold its arms when its nationals are summarily being killed in other countries without drug evidence.

Ibrahim Badmus was accused of drug in South Africa and the next thing was for the South African police to use dangerous substance to suffocate him to death?

Something must be done urgently. The government mustn’t wait till Nigerians back home begin to take laws into their hands.

About the author

Opeyemi Quadri

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