The premonition of a possible attack led to a partial closure of some of the business outlets, with heavy presence of security agents mounted around their premises to forestall break down of law and order.
Inside Abuja took an assessment tour to places like the MTN office, located at Maitama area of Abuja, the DSTV office also located at the same Maitama district and the Shoprite sales outlets.
These followed the peaceful protest staged by the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) which saw a group of young undergraduates of tertiary institutions in Nigeria marching through the streets, chanting solidarity songs. The demonstrators equally brandished placards with inscriptions denouncing the rising wave of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.
Led by their National President, Kadiri Aruna, the students took their protest to the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa House, headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs before storming the premises of DSTV/ Multichoice and MTN Nigeria, all in Abuja.
Although the students were not armed, they were furious that Nigerians in South Africa were being killed as though the lives of strangers were worthless.
The Nigerian migrants in the former apartheid enclave were not only being hunted and killed but their businesses were vandalised and looted by the mob with the tacit support of the police in South Africa.
In retaliation, the protesting students demanded that South African businesses in Abuja and other parts of Nigeria should be closed down within 48 hours.
“We are saying that enough is enough as South Africans have openly attacked and bullied Nigerians. All the South African business empires 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” Aruna said. The students, during the protest, accused South Africans of being ungrateful to Nigeria, considering her role in pulling them out of the dungeon of apartheid that dehumanised an average black South African, and also subjected the whole country to economic squalor for many years.
“Nigeria contributed 80 per cent of the freedom the South Africans are enjoying today because we saved then from the jaws of apartheid. Who is South Africa to humiliate Nigeria? So, they forget things so soon.
Let them go back to history and records to see how much financial assistance and what Nigeria did to save them”, he added.
Not satisfied with the 48 hour ultimatum for South Africans to leave Nigeria, the students urged the Nigerian government to sever diplomatic ties with South Africa.
“Our government should take extra- diplomatic measures in dealing with the latest deadly assaults because if nothing drastic is done, it will become a regular occurrence.
This is the time to place South Africa where it belongs. “The government of South Africa is criminally quiet for as they say, silence is consent.
Their policemen are folding their arms while their citizens are killing Nigerians. This is a conspiracy and enough is enough” he added. The continued xenophobic attacks, targeting mostly Nigerians and other African migrants in South Africa has left a bitter taste on the mouth.
The unfortunate attacks, though said to have been initiated by some illiterate and uncivilised South African youths, have created some ugly ripple effects that if not well managed, might end up causing colossal damages to both diplomatic and economic ties between the two countries.
Many Nigerians and citizens of other African nations had either died or suffered loss of various kinds as a result of the barbaric and outlandish way the South Africans were getting rid of stranger elements in their country.
Some observers have described the dominance of MTN in Nigeria telecommunication industry as ” economic rip off” while the spread of Shoprite sales outlets had been like a wild fire in the harmattan season.
The DSTV operations in Nigeria has also come under fire. There is a raging controversy on its usefulness to Nigeria and following the perception that its services are very poor but come with exorbitant charges.
The reaction to the xenophobic attacks could therefore be regarded as the outburst of an anger bottled up for a long time. Meanwhile, a few hours after the students’ protest, the telecom-munication giant, MTN Nigeria gave it a different interpretation. It said that some vandals attacked its regional head quarters , in Abuja.
The organisation said the attack was an apparent reaction to the ongoing xenophobic attacks on Nigerian nationals in South-Africa. “The vandals, who carted away valuables in the process, including phones and cash, among others, also destroyed vehicle and office equipment, whose values were yet to be ascertained at the time of filing this report.
No fewer than 30 vandals invaded the premises of the South-African owned telecom company, located at 4 Madeira Street, Maitama.
The irate protesters cum vandals, armed with dangerous objects including rods, stones and sticks, were chanting solidarity songs.
” An MTN staff, who prefers anonymity, disclosed that when the attackers stormed the company’s premises, the staff ran for their dear lives, while the attack lasted for some minutes before the intervention of security operatives.
One week after, the impact of that protest is yet to fade away as security operatives are still keeping vigil at the premises of MTN and the other businesses with roots in South Africa.