Nigerian students clash over free trip to South Africa, Xenophobia

Two factions of the National Association of Nigerian Students almost came to blows at the premises of the South African High Commission in Abuja, over offers of a free trip to South Africa.

The Mission had made the offer to douse the tension over xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in different SA cities.

The acting South African High Commissioner, Bobby Moroe, had invited a faction of NANS for a meeting where the idea of cultural tourism was mooted.

The NANS members had embraced the offer of free travel to South Africa to meet with their counterparts as part of measures to resolve the crisis.

But while the meeting was about coming to an end, another NANS faction which claimed to be the authentic student body invited by the High Commissioner arrived at the mission.

Tempers flared as the two groups engaged in a war of words which nearly degenerated into a brawl, but it was quickly brought under control by embassy officials.“The lack of decisive police response to prevent or stop the attacks implies the state’s support or passive involvement. These xenophobic attacks have not elicited any official political will and action to stem them beyond officious acknowledgements or condemnations that serve no real purpose. This is a sign of endorsement or at least tolerance by the state.”

Meanwhile, a civil society group, the United Global Resolve for Peace has accused South African officials of complicity in the attacks, noting that their call on citizens to defend the country’s sovereignty and democracy “is an order to attack foreigners.”

UGRP Executive Director, Shalom Olaseni, in a statement in Abuja, said the SA government had not exhibited the necessary political will to address the violence against foreign nationals.

He said, “Recent xenophobic attacks demonstrate state complicity in a number of ways. First, state officials’ calls on citizens to defend the country’s sovereignty and democracy is an order to attack foreigners; an order which the citizenry, already harbouring pervasive and strong xenophobic sentiments, is unlikely to turn down.

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