The Nigerian community in South Africa has just confirmed the brutal killing of Mr. Chibuzo Nwankwo, a 42-year old Nigerian immigrant who hailed from Enugu State. According to the community, the death of Mr. Nwankwo has brought to 121 the number of Nigerians killed in South Africa in questionable circumstances in the past 18 months (between January 2016 and July 2018). Since the South African Government has not put adequate measures in place to prevent the xenophobic attacks that are unleashed on immigrants from African countries by the economically marginalized people of South Africa the killings have continued unabated. Even though the Government of South Africa has not been directly implicated in the killings its refusal to prosecute the suspected murderers has emboldened the criminal elements that have specialized in the killing of unarmed African immigrants. To that extent, the South African Government is liable to bear full responsibility for the mindless killings.
It is curious to note that in spite of the leadership roles of both Nigeria and South Africa in the African continent the Governments of both countries have deliberately refused to accept the jurisdictional competence of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights by making a Declaration in line with article 34 (6) of the Protocol for the Establishment of the Court. Thus, by refusing to make the Declaration both countries have made it impossible for their nationals whose human rights have been violated by state actors to seek legal redress in the African Court on Human and People’s Rights sitting in Arusha, Tanzania. As if that is not enough, the Government of South Africa has virtually concluded plans to withdraw from the International Criminal court by revoking the ratification of the Rome Statute which was authorized by President Nelson Mandela on July 17, 1998.
On its own part, the Government of Nigeria has not gone beyond the regular condemnation of the brutal killings. Up till now the Government has not deemed it fit to take bold diplomatic measures to guarantee the security of the life and property of every Nigerian citizen living in South Africa. The Federal Government has not even assisted the victims of xenophobic attacks and relatives of those who have been hacked to death yo demand for the payment of aggravated damages and prosecution of the culprits who are well known to the police authorities in South Africa. However, the lackadaisical attitude of the Nigerian Government to the brutalization of Nigerian immigrants in South Africa is not surprising in view of the impotence of the State to curb the incessant killing of innocent citizens at home by terrorists, herders, armed robbers, kidnappers and other bandits.
With the recent election of a Nigerian lawyer, Mrs Stella Anukam as a Justice of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights, it is hoped that the Mohammadu Buhari administration will stop exposing Nigeria to ridicule by making the Declaration to facilitate access to the African Court without any further delay. Otherwise, the Federal Government will soon be embarrassed by some local and regional Non Governmental Organizations that have threatened to kick against the constitution of the African Court by Judges from Nigeria and other member states of the African Union that have failed to recognize the jurisdiction of the Court. In order to stop the reckless killing of Nigerians in South Africa the Federal Government should pressurize the Ramphosa administration to bring all culprits to book forthwith and compensate the bereaved families of Nigerians that have been killed in South Africa due to official negligence impunity on the part of the Government. We are therefore compelled to call on the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights to conduct an enquiry into the killings of African immigrants in South Africa and make appropriate recommendations to the African Union.
Finally, there should be a firm commitment on the part of the Government of South Africa to protect the life of every African immigrant in strict compliance with article 4 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights which provides that “Human beings are inviolable. Every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person. No one may be arbitrarily deprived of this right.”
– Falana is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN)
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