The Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau, rtd, has said that if the South African government does not soft pedal on its rigid diplomatic relationship with Nigeria, the Federal Government might have no other option other than paying them (South African Government) back in their own coins.
He said South African authorities were not doing much to quell the endless extra-judicial killings and xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in the country.
Dambazua gave the warning at a joint press briefing with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on Friday in Abuja.
The Minister reminded South Africa of the principle of reciprocity of action in international diplomacy.
He said his ministry would collaborate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Consular Services.
“In the event that the South African authority continues to make things difficult for us, we will have no choice than to make things difficult for them too,” he said.
On the exact number of Nigerians in South African prisons, the minister said, “I have asked the Home Affairs minister about the exact number of Nigerians in South African prisons but he was not able to give me the exact figure.
“I am going to have another meeting with the minister after now to sort out all those issues.”
He added, “But from what I could gather, most of the Nigerians in South African prisons were convicted of drugs, fraud and prostitution. As at now, Nigeria has no prisoner agreement with South Africa.
“That is an issue that we are going to discuss with the Home Affairs minister but one of the things that came up as the result of this xenophobic saga is to know the number of Nigerians in South Africa.”
On the number of Nigerians living and doing business in South Africa, the Minister said, “They gave us an estimate of 800,000 while others say 600,000. The gaps we have is that, most Nigerians don’t register with the Nigerian mission in South Africa when they get there.
“We have suggested that the Nigeria Union of South Africa should carry out a kind of registration of Nigerians living in each province, since the association has a presence in almost all the provinces in the country.
“Then take all the names of those registered to the Nigeria High Commission in Pretoria, so that if anything goes wrong, the mission can be in the know.”