We can’t keep repatriating dead bodies from SA, says Gbaja

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Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house of representatives, says Nigeria cannot continue to repatriate corpses of its citizens from South Africa.

Addressing a press conference on Friday, Gbajabiamila condemned the fresh xenophobic attacks in which many Nigerians were targetted.

The incident had forced Nigeria to recall its high commissioner from the country while also pulling out of the World Economic Forum (WEF) taking place there.

Speaking during the press conference held outside the national assembly premises in Abuja, Gbajabiamila demanded compensation from the South African government for Nigerians affected by the recent attacks in the country.

He said the lower legislative chamber will also back legal funding for litigation against perpetrators of the attacks.

He said: “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 heart. We did not provoke, nor do we deserve the violence that has been visited on our people in South Africa.

“The leadership of the house of representatives will also shortly invite the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Nigerian Ambassador to the Republic of South Africa, the Chairman of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission and other stakeholders to jointly consider the causes of these latest incidents of organised mass violence and murder of our people.

“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.

“The House of Representatives is ready to authorise legal funding for those citizens who wish to take legal action against identified perpetrators of the violence as well as those who sponsored them or permitted their actions to occur and to continue.”

Gbajabiamila also called on the South African government to investigate claims that state actors were complicit in the attacks.

“We recognise that there are many places in the world right now where internal crises and conflicts have made the terrain unsafe for our citizens there,” he added.

“The House of Representatives will work with all the stakeholders within and outside government to evolve and implement a plan to evacuate our people from these places and as much as possible keep them out of harm’s way.”

Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s foreign affairs minister, had said there was no provision for compensating those affected in the latest xenophobic attacks in the country.

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