Obasanjo advocates AU sanction for S’Africa if attacks continue

FORMER President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday advised countries worse-hit by xenophobic attacks to get the African Union (AU) involved, if the situation persists.

In a letter to South Africa’s Inkatha Freedom Party leader Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the former President said Africans must treat each other as brothers and friends wherever they live.

The letter was made available to newsmen in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, by Obasanjo’s media aide Kehinde Akinyemi.

The former President said: “If South Africa fails to initiate appropriate and satisfactory steps to deal with the issues to pacify affected victims and work for reconciliation with the countries concerned to put an end to xenophobia, the concerned countries of the victims should come together to table appropriate motions at the AU level first and consider other measures, if the situation is allowed to continue.”

Obasanjo warned against revenge, saying it was not a desirable solution.

“Mutual understanding and acknowledgement of what needs to be done on all sides is imperative and getting down to doing them is the solution that will serve Nigeria and South Africa and indeed, Africa well, particularly in this era of Africa Continental Free Trade Area opportunities.

“I dare say, for any African country to encourage or allow or not seriously sanction xenophobia against Africans in their country, it is a great disservice, not only to the country where xenophobia takes place and the countries of the victims concerned, but also a great disservice to the whole of Africa and black race.

“I want to thank you, my dear senior brother, for the statement you made to alert leaders and ordinary people of South Africa to appreciate that turning a blind eye and not making a very strong statement of condemnation or taking a very strong stand against xenophobia is encouraging xenophobia or being an accomplice in xenophobia and/or afrophobia.

“However, we believe that Africans living in any other parts of Africa must be treated as brothers and friends. If they commit any crime, they should be treated like citizens of that country will be treated when they commit crime, which will mean applying judicial process.”

Obasanjo said South African law enforcement agencies must uphold the constitution and ensure criminals are brought to justice.

“Where the Police would stand aloof watching miscreants and criminals committing crimes against fellow human beings is condemnable and not acceptable in any civilised society.

“This was experienced in South Africa in recent times and it shows either incompetence or collusion on the part of the Police.

“The best way to fight crime is to achieve close to full employment in a society and not through xenophobia. Anybody who can deny xenophobia in South Africa of today can deny that my mother is a woman.

“It should not be a game of denial, but rather, a game of accepting reality and working at it, together with the rest of Africa where necessary.”

He recalled the role Nigeria played to help South Africa end apartheid because it believed that Africans should not be treated as second-class citizens because of the colour of their skin.

Obasanjo said Nigeria would do for other countries what it did for South Africa in the interest of the black race.

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