Nigeria has told senior diplomatic representatives in South Africa to return to the West African country following xenophobic attacks that have affected its nationals.
Acting High Commissioner Martin Cobham and Deputy High Commissioner Uche Ajulu-Okeke will travel to Nigeria to consult with the government, Nigeria’s foreign affairs ministry spokesman Ogbole Ode said by phone from the capital, Abuja. “Once the consultations are over, they are free to return,” he said.
The summons come as the two governments struggle to contain the aftermath of violence in South Africa, which has included the torching of car dealerships owned by Nigerians. The violence has triggered criticism that led the South African consulate general in Nigeria to close its offices for two days last week. Nigerians have held protests and threatened to boycott South African businesses such as MTN Group Ltd., the mobile operator with the most subscribers in Nigeria, and Naspers Ltd.’s pay-TV company DSTV.
Nigeria is the only country that has taken “this unfortunate and regrettable step” following the outbreak of xenophobic violence, the South African government’s department for international relations and cooperation said in an e-mailed statement. The state will raise its concerns with the new Nigerian administration when it assumes office following elections last month, it said.
“We value our relations with the Nigerian government and we would like to work together because we’ve come a long way,” Lulu Mnguni, South African High Commissioner to Nigeria, said by phone from Abuja.