..Demonstrators storm Embassy, vandalise MTN head office
..Fear grips Shoprite, DSTV, others
..FG demands compensation for victims in S/Africa
Hundreds of Nigerians on Thursday took to the streets to protest the on-gong xenophobic attacks on their kinsmen in South Africa.
In Abuja, the nation’s capital, where the protest was fierce, the demonstrators attacked South African interests and gave the country’s nationals 48 hours to leave Nigeria.
The protesters who stormed telecommunication giant, MTN Nigeria’s head office in Maitama, Abuja, allegedly vandalised its equipment in the complex. They also stormed the South Africa High Commission in Abuja before proceeding to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at the Federal Secretariat, where they registered their grievances to the Federal Government.
The protesters, who were led by the President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), Mr. Aruna Kadiri, moved from the popular Unity Fountain to MTN office in Maitama and Multi Choice in Central Area to protest against the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.
At the South African Embassy, the demonstrators urged the High Commission officials to cancel the dinner organised in honour of Regina Tambo, the co-founder of African National Congress (ANC) Youth League.
At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the students urged the government to take concrete action to protect Nigerians in South Africa.
Kadiri, who later addressed newsmen, said: “We are demanding that they should break the ties between both countries if there’s any because the xenophobic attacks that had happened long time ago has come again. We have decided to clear the madness with madness.”
He said that they burned the South African flag at the High Commission to pass a message that “we don’t have relationship with them any longer.
“Within 48 hours, all South Africans in Nigeria should leave or else we won’t be able to guarantee their security anymore,” Kadiri added.
The spokesperson of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Clement Aduku, urged the protesters to be calm as the government is engaging in talks with South Africa over the attacks.
He assured them that all diplomatic means would be explored to stop the killing of Nigerian nationals in South Africa.
In a reaction, MTN officials alleged that the attackers carted away customer phones, I-Pads and vandalised valuable equipment.
“They are protesting against the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa. It’s our regional head office in Abuja. That’s where we have our customer care centre.
“They vandalised equipment, stole customer phones and I-Pads. Some customers too were attacked, he said.”
At least 20 shops believed to belong to immigrants were looted in South Africa’s capital and lots of Nigerians killed in the process.
At DSTV office, a South African company in Wuse 2, Abuja, Aruna said that Nigerian students had resolved to condemn the attacks.
“We are saying that enough is enough as South Africans have openly attacked and bullied Nigerians.’’
Aruna said that the protest would also serve as a warning to other countries trying to underrate Nigerians.
He said that after 48 hours, if nothing was done, messages would be sent to students in all university campuses to bring down MTN masts all over the country.
Aruna said that DSTV and Shoprite would also be affected as the union had put adequate strategies in place to make the action effective.
“All the South African business empires in Nigeria and their collaborators in Nigeria will be affected.
“I don’t want to say we will be barbaric but we will not be lawful in our actions, we will do it and face the consequences. Enough of this rubbish,’’ he said.
Over 50 police and DSS operatives surrounded the DSTV premises and lined up the street making it impossible for reporters to make contact with any DSTV official for comments.
FG wants compensation for Nigerian victims Meanwhile, the Federal Government has demanded compensation for Nigerians whose property were destroyed in the xenophobic violence in South Africa.
The Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, who made Nigerian position known in Abuja at a news conference, said Nigerians should be protected in South Africa.
The minister, who said that Federal Government had taken some measures to stop the incessant attacks, expressed worries on the alleged involvement of South African security agencies in the violence.
He said: ``We are doing a lot ;we are engaging with the South African government; we have summoned the South African High Commissioner, Mr Lulu Aaron-Mnguni , to the ministry over the issue.
One of the things that were being said was that South Africa police were being complicit in some of the attacks, not just on Nigerians, but on other nationals.
We have communicated our deep concerns to the South African Government that, if that is the case on this allegation, that law enforcement agencies are accomplices in this situation, ” he stressed.
No Nigerian killed in attacks - Minister
Also yesterday, the Minister of State Foreign Affairs, Hajiya Khadija Abba-Ibrahim, confirmed that no Nigerian was killed in the South African xenophobic attacks.
Ibrahim stated this when she met the High Commissioner of South Africa to Nigeria , Mr. Lulu Aaron-Mnguni, said that the government is in touch with South African authorities to ensure the safety of Nigerians there.
“The ministry has not received the report of any death of Nigerian in the latest attacks against foreigners. The Nigerian High Commission in Pretoria is in constant touch with the Nigerian Union in South Africa, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO) of South Africa , as well as the South African police. All these agencies have confirmed that no Nigerian life was lost in the recent incident, she said.”
The minister also urged Nigerians in South Africa to remain calm and be law abiding.
In another development, the Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki has condemned the attack on Nigerians living in South Africa.
Obaseki spoke during a courtesy visit by members of Alumna Association of National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (AANI) in Benin City, the Edo State capital. He urged the Federal Government, Foreign Affair Ministry and the South African government to protect Nigerians in that country.
Earlier, the President of AANI, Maj-Gen. Lawrence Onoja (rtd) expressed thanked the governor and the people of the state for their hospitality.