It was in retaliation for the expulsion of 125 Nigerians from South Africa last weekend.
Following the deportation of 125 Nigerians last weekend by South African immigration authorities over alleged fake Yellow Fever vaccination certificates, Nigeria on Tuesday March 6, 2012 in apparent retaliation, expelled 56 South Africans from Murtala International Airport, Lagos for "lack of proper documentation."
THISDAY newspaper of Nigeria reported that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, had earlier vowed that the Federal Government would henceforth take tough action against any country that takes delight in ill-treating Nigerians. The action by Nigerian Immigration authorities came after Minister Ashiru had appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs to explain repeated incidents of maltreatment of Nigerians abroad; especially in African countries.
"This is the first time in my entire career in the Foreign Service that a supposedly friendly country would send 125 Nigerians back home on the flimsy excuse that they are carrying fake Yellow Fever vaccination cards," Mr. Ashiru said while reacting to various misgivings expressed by members of the committee over the deportation saga.
Irked by the incident, senators on Tuesday asked the Federal Government to shut down all South African companies in Nigeria and immediately close Nigeria's embassy in South Africa, the Vanguard newspaper of Nigeria said. Meanwhile, Health Minister, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, who on Tuesday addressed the press on the issue in the capital, Abuja, noted that Nigeria was not endemic to Yellow Fever as the last case was recorded in 1995.
According to Ambassador Ashiru, the underlying problem is the xenophobic attitude of the average South African toward Nigerians, the Nigerian Tribune reported. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs has given Ambassador Ashiru one week to report back to the House on measures taken to address the national embarrassment caused by the deportation, The Guardian newspaper of Nigeria said.
On the other hand, South Africa's High Commissioner to Nigeria, Kingsley Mamabolo, on Tuesday held marathon meetings with Nigerian Foreign Ministry authorities to try to resolve the issue. A spokesperson of the High Commission, Mothusi Choeunyane, told the press that he was hopeful about the outcome of the discussions as the matter had been taken up at the highest level.