Hundreds of Nigerian protesters on Monday stormed the offices of South African companies in Abuja and Benin City, Edo State, to protest the ongoing xenophobic attacks on foreigners, especially Nigerians, in South Africa.
In Abuja, the protesters, led by media personality and President of the Berekete Family, Ahmad Isah, marched to the regional headquarters of MTN Nigeria Communications Limited in Maitama, as well as Shoprite and Multichoice, owners of DSTV.
At MTN, the protesters, who carried placards with various inscriptions condemning the attacks on Nigerians and their businesses in South Africa, were joined by Nigerians in the area where the office is located.
One of our correspondents learnt that a senior official of MTN whose identity was not known, addressed the crowd of protesters who wore yellow T-shirts, the traditional colour of the South African telecommunications company.
The official reportedly told the protesters that the company was not in support of the attacks on Nigerians and other Africans in South Africa.
He also told them that the MTN operation in the country was MTN Nigeria and that the company only has a few South Africans working in the country.
When our correspondent visited the Maitama office of the company, policemen in a patrol vehicle were seen stationed just across the telecommunication firm’s office to forestall possible breakdown of the peace.
In Benin City, some youth protesters stormed the MTN office on 3rd East Circular Road, Muritala Muhammed Way.
The youths, under the aegis of The Flagship, threatened to shut down South African firms operating in Nigeria over the attack on Nigerians in South Africa.
The protesters carried placards with various inscriptions.
The messages in the placards include, “Xenophobia is inhuman,” “Zuma call your boys to order” and “S/Africans can’t be making money from us, killing us.”
Spokesperson for the group, Austin Enabulele, described the attacks as inhuman and condemnable, explaining that the protest was a warning to the South African government to put a stop to the attacks on Nigerians or risk losing its investments in the country.
Enabulele said, “We are all Africans; we wonder why they should attack our fellow Nigerians who are doing their legitimate businesses in South Africa, when we have shown them love to operate in Nigeria.
“We have come here to say to (President Jacob) Zuma to call his people to order because if he fails to call them to order we will do the needful. We are aware of all their businesses in Nigeria; we know of MTN, we know of Shoprite, we know of Multichoice company, and we know of all the other companies that belong to South Africa.
“We will shut down all their services, if they continue the killing of our brothers and sisters. So, we have come here to tell them to put an end to the killing of our brothers and sisters who are doing their legitimate jobs in South Africa.”
The vice president of the group, Gloria Noren, decried what she described as the ingratitude of South Africans, whom she said received financial support from Nigeria during the apartheid era.
Noren urged the Federal Government to commence the immediate evacuation of Nigerians from South Africa, in order to forestall further havoc.
She said, “We have videos of Nigerians that have been killed; I personally watched the video. How can someone come out to say that we are taking their jobs from them? What about the money they are making from us?
“Nigeria spent over N60bn fighting apartheid for them. Why should we extend love to them and they extend hatred to us. It is totally inhuman, distasteful and disgusting.
“We are sending this message to our Nigerian government to go ahead and evacuate all Nigerians from South Africa because we cannot continue to lose our brethren.”
The Nigerian Consul-General in South Africa, Amb. Uche Ajulu-Okeke, had on Sunday said that Nigerians had lost more than N21m to the attacks in South Africa.
Ajulu-Okeke said the loss included looted shops, burnt shops, two burnt mechanic workshops, 11 burnt cars and two stolen cars, among others.
“Nigerians have compiled the cost of the damage to their property and it is totalling about 1.2m Rand or N21m, which will be sent to the Federal Government for further action,” the ambassador had said.
She said that two of the three Nigerians who were wounded during the attacks in Durban had been treated and discharged from the hospital.
The consul-general said that she would go back to Durban to assess the situation on ground and meet with the provincial authority on the security of Nigerians in the province.