The president of the Nigeria Union in South Africa, Ikechukwu Anyene, has accused South African police of murder and abduction of Nigerians, following the deaths of 20 of his countrymen in 2016.
Now the Nigerian presidency has added its voice to the complaints.
The Senior Special Assistant to the Nigerian President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has described the alleged extra-judicial killing of a Nigerian in South Africa as “worrying and condemnable.”
In a statement Dabiri-Erewa said the latest gruesome killing of Tochukwu Nnadi by Police in South Africa, was unacceptable to the people and government of Nigeria.
Tochukwu Nnadi,a Nigerian living in the country, was allegedly choked to death by Police in South Africa on December 29, 2016 after he was arrested for allegedly selling drugs.
According to eyewitnesses, the man, popularly known as King Kingsley, was not struggling after he was arrested and handcuffed, but one of the officers held onto his neck and squeezed tightly until blood started gushing out.
This is not the first time that Nigerians have complained about their treatment in South Africa.
In 2015 the Nigeria’s Acting High Commissioner to South Africa, Martin Cobham, was recalled home to discuss anti-immigrant attacks in South Africa, which have killed at least seven people.
Televised images of armed gangs attacking immigrants and looting foreign-owned stores in Johannesburg sparked a backlash in Nigeria, where hundreds protested in front of shops owned by South African brands like MTN and Shoprite.
There is certainly a belief that foreign nationals – including Nigerians – are responsible for much of the South African trade in drugs.
This presentation is from a 2015 police report.
And if South Africans see Nigerians as drugs pushers, Nigerians consider South Africans xenophobic.
Nigeria banned the film “District 9”, a hit movie directed by a South African that depicted Nigerians as cannibals, criminals and prostitutes who had sex with aliens.
There has also been tension between Pretoria and Abuja over just who should be seen to represent Africa on the world stage.
The decision by Russia, Brazil, China and India to single out South Africa as a member of BRICS was a case in point.
These issues may cause some friction, but attacks on Nigeria’s citizens is an issue that President Buhari cannot ignore.
The question is how President Jacob Zuma responds.