President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, yesterday, warned that if adequate steps are not put in place, more Nigerians may be killed in foreign countries, especially in South Africa.

Lawan issued the warning when the immediate-past Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama appeared before the Senate for his confirmation hearing.

Lawan said: “I personally met with the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria. If we don’t get things in place, more Nigerians may be killed abroad. Even if Nigerians commit crimes, killing them should not be the first option. This has got to stop.

“I have written to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I have asked them to furnish us with names of Nigerians killed in South Africa so far. We are going to write to the South African government and we will put an end to these killings.”

Chief Whip of the Senate, Orji Uzor Kalu, in his reaction, decried the maltreatment of Nigerians by officials of American Embassy. He said something must be done to ensure that Nigerians get fair treatment without any harassment.

He also decried some unfair treatments Nigerians businessmen contend with in some West African countries and called on nominee to address the issues if deployed to foreign affairs.

Onyeama said a framework has been formed, where the presidents of Nigeria and South Africa will meet regularly to talk about more bilateral agreements on how to solve some of the issues.

On the issue of non-payment of salaries of staff of the embassy in Washington DC, Onyeama said allocations and release to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a major setback in meeting the financial obligations of foreign service staff.

He said one of the ways out is to reduce the number of foreign missions, maintaining that Nigeria should focus on missions it could finance rather than over-stretching its finances.

He said he raised the issue at one point during the Federal Executive Council meeting on how to fund foreign missions or reduce them if necessary.

On maltreatment of Nigerians and non-issuance of visas, he said the country should develop an adequate response strategy to reciprocate.

“Because of the situation in South Africa, I went there myself and met with officials. I also met with Nigerians. There was a trust deficit between the South African police and Nigerians. We met with some government officials to have regular meetings with Nigerian unions and high commission.

“The South African government is not complicit in the killing of Nigerians. Whoever takes over as foreign affairs minister will have to put in place a contact line to always be in contact with the South African Minister of Foreign Affairs.

“We have worked on stolen funds. I worked with some countries to ensure that funds were repatriated. Economic diplomacy is something we should really push going forward.

“Senator Kalu raised a point about the treatment of Nigerian businesses in foreign countries. We need to have more bilateral meetings with these countries to resolve these issues.

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