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Nigerians in South Africa speak on Buhari’s visit


Mr. Benjamin Okoli, President, Nigerian Citizens Association in South Africa (NICASA), said President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to that country would allay citizens’ fears of xenophobic attacks from South Africans.

Okoli said this in an interview with newsmen on Thursday while responding to a question on the association’s expectations of the visit.

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He expressed the hope that President Buhari’s visit would help address issues bordering on the safety of lives and property of Nigerians, immigration permit, and balance of trade.

According to him, President Buhari’s arrival in South Africa should ensure that there is fair treatment of Nigerians who qualify for permit but are not given; we want that to stop.

“We expect President Buhari to look into matters of protection of Nigerian citizens here; to discuss with South African authorities on police brutality and killing of Nigerians living in South Africa.

“Quite a number of Nigerians have been killed by the South African police.

“So we expect President Buhari to demand an end to such.

“We expect discussions on immigration, whereby South Africans will no longer deny Nigerians permit, which is what we call xenophobia in visa-processing.

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“People who qualify are not given because of nationality.

“We also expect the president to talk about how we can balance trade between both countries, so that South Africans will not continue to have an advantage over Nigerians,” he said.

He cited the UN survey report of 2017 which indicated that the total number of Nigerians living in South Africa was approximately 27,000.

Okoli explained that Nigerians in that country owned small businesses, whereas South Africans in Nigeria operated bigger companies that generated huge incomes in favour of the South African economy.

The NICASA president also said that the Nigerians largely affected by the xenophobic attacks in South Africa were petty traders.

He said that adequate arrangement had been made for a town hall meeting between the President and NICASA in furtherance of discussions on issues involving Nigerian citizens living in South Africa.

He added that the names of Nigerians affected by the xenophobic attacks had been collated to enable them press charges for compensation.

“We expect the South African government to compensate Nigerians that were attacked in that country because they lost businesses and properties.

“Their businesses are not illegal; we have profiled them and we intend to go to court to seek redress,” Okoli said.

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