In apparent retaliation for the xenophobic attacks in South
Africa, some angry Nigerian protesters vandalized South
African mobile phone giant, MTN ’s head office in Abuja on
According to reports, a spokesman for MTN said the
protesters stormed the regional head office of MTN – the
biggest South African company active in Nigeria – and stole
customers’ phones, vandalized equipment and attacked
Eyewitness reports narrate that the angry protesters
forcefully entered the MTN office though security men were
around but were unable to curtail them.
The protesters constituting of some touts and some
students took away some customers’ phones and other
valuables, according to a witness at the scene.
Though a South African government source described the attack as serious, however, there was no obvious damage
noticed at the building, but security officers cordoned off the entrance.
Interestingly, the incident coincided with a visit by MTN
chairman Phuthuma Nhleko to the Nigerian capital to see
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo .
The attack is coming after a Nigerian youth body threatened
to shut down South African businesses after shops believed
to be owned by immigrants in the capital Pretoria were
In reaction, Nigeria Police Force has warned individuals and
groups against engaging in acts that will result in the
destruction of property and cause a breakdown of law and
order, especially against South African companies in Abuja,
or in any other part of the country.
The warning was issued in a statement by the FCT police
command after the attack on MTN’s head office. Also, the
Ministry of Communications has said that the federal
government would not make a premature statement on the
attack but will address the issue next week.
Special Adviser to the Minister of Communications, Mr.
Victor Oluwadamilare, however, admitted that the attack
was a reprisal against MTN, following the xenophobic
attacks in South Africa last week.
Prior to the attack on MTN’s office, the National
Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) had staged a
protest at the South African High Commission in Abuja.
The protesting students issued a 48-hour ultimatum to
South African nationals to leave Nigeria and also expressed
their grievance by burning the South African national flag,
also The students, led by their president, Aruna Kadiri,
commenced their march from the popular Unity Fountain in
the capital city before moving to MTN and Multichoice
offices in Maitama and Central Area in Abuja.
They demanded that the officials of the South African High Commission cancel the dinner organized in honor of Regina Tambo, co-founder of the African National Congress (ANC) Youth League.
The students also visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
where they urged the federal government to take concrete
action to protect Nigerians in South Africa.
The leader of the protesters said; “we are demanding that
they should break the ties between both countries if there’s any, because the xenophobic attacks that happened a long time ago have recurred, we have decided to clear the madness with madness.”
According to him, the South African flag at the High
Commission was burnt in order to pass a message that
Nigeria no longer has a relationship with South Africa.
Kadiri said all South Africans in Nigeria should leave within
48 hours, else their security won’t be guaranteed anymore.
In response, the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Clement Aduku urged the protesting students to be
calm, adding that the federal government was engaging in
talks with its South African counterpart on the xenophobic
He also assured them that all diplomatic means would be
explored to stop the killings of Nigerian nationals in South
Meanwhile, South Africa’s home affairs minister, Malusi
Gigaba while speaking on Thursday, condemned the
renewed anti-foreigner violence which has flared sporadically in South Africa.
During a media briefing, Gigaba disclosed that some
residents in Pretoria had planned a march on Friday against immigrants, citing competition for jobs and allegations of criminal activity, such as prostitution and drug dealing in the poor township west of Pretoria.
In the same vein, South Africa’s high commissioner to
Nigeria, Lulu Mnguni, has apologized to Nigerians, and
other foreigners involved in the recent xenophobic attacks .
Mnguni said the unjustifiable attacks were a poor representation of South Africa’s values. He said the South
African government had taken measures to stop them.