Ramaphosa and Nigerian president Buhari vow to work together to prevent any xenophobic attacks

Nigeria's president Muhammadu Buhari and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa
Nigeria's president Muhammadu Buhari and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa
Image: Phill Magakoe / AFP

The recent spate of violent xenophobic attacks are unacceptable and they can never happen again, Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari told President Cyril Ramaphosa during his state visit to South Africa.

The two countries signed a total of 32 agreements that would further strengthen ties between them in trade and industry, investment, energy, defence and security, immigration, justice, and police, among others.

Buhari and Ramaphosa agreed that the recent xenophobic attacks put a lot of things at risk for the two countries and the Nigerian president called on South Africa to put in place mechanisms to stop any such attacks before they happen.

During a joint media briefing at the Union Buildings, Buhari said he had agreed with Ramaphosa that the two countries would initiate measures to prevent such attacks.

“Our two countries have also agreed to address the challenges in our relations including ...  challenges that saw attacks against foreign nationals, including Nigerians, and their properties which we strongly condemn,” said Buhari.

“We have decided to work and take concrete measures together to prevent the reoccurrence of such unacceptable incidents in the future.”

Buhari is on his first official state visit since Ramaphosa took over the presidency and the two countries are on a quest to strengthen ties.

He said that as far as their discussions went, there was a general consensus that the root of such xenophobic attacks lies solely in the competition for business in communities.

“It’s a question of competition at a very low level where [local people] who have small shops feel [they must] belong exclusively to the indigenous people of that locality when it's open to people from all over the world…

“I think Nigerians know the stand of the leadership that when you are in Rome, you do what the Romans do,” said Buhari elaborating that they must follow the rules of the countries they are in as locals would eventually “not accept” criminality in their countries.

Buhari said that the countries’ police and intelligence services have to stop the attacks at planning stages by infiltrating communities.

“The competition was as a growth of population… so it means our respective police forces and security agencies must be very alert.

“[They must] infiltrate the communities, know their thinking and make sure they don’t allow violence to escalate,” he said.

Ramaphosa echoed Buhari’s remarks and said that it was important for settlers to abide by the rules of their host countries.

“They must live by the laws of the countries they are in. And similarly with businesses, those who run businesses must abide by the laws of the country they are running businesses in.

“So on this, we are unanimous, we are clear between ourselves that the rule of law must be observed by everyone who seeks to operate, live in any of the two countries,” said Ramaphosa​. 

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