Protesting youths storm South African firms in Abuja

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By Victoria Ojeme, Chris Ochayi, Emmanuel Elebeke, Favour Ulebor & Maranatha Ahiaba
IRKED by the killings of Nigerians and destruction of their businesses in South Africa, aggrieved Nigerian youths, yesterday, moved to take on entities owned by South Africa in Nigeria but were blocked by armed security men.

Youths protesting xenophobic attacks on Nigerians living in South Africa, yesterday, in Abuja. Photos: Gbemiga Olamikan.

The protesters, led by the National Association of Nigerian Students, NANS, had taken their anger to the premises of MTN, DSTV and Shoprite, all in Abuja with the aim of registering their anger over the wanton killing of Nigerians in South Africa and to serve a warning for the immediate cessation of the attacks.

However, as they arrived at the MTN and DSTV offices, both in Maitama District of Abuja, armed security men had taken strategic positions around the business premises, thereby preventing them from gaining access to the places and attacking either people or property.

No fewer than 10 trucks with anti-riot policemen and one with soldiers were on hand on both sides of the MTN office to ward off intruders.

The students, led by their President, Aruna Kadiri, moved from the popular Unity Fountain to MTN office in Maitama and MultiChoice in Central Area. They also issued a 48-hour ultimatum to South African nationals and companies to leave Nigeria.

They equally asked the High Commission officials to cancel the dinner organised in honour of Regina Tambo, the co-founder of 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, while addressing newsmen, said:  “We are demanding that they should break the ties between both countries, if there are any because of the xenophobic attacks. We have decided to clear the madness with madness.”

Kadiri explained that they burnt 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.”

He said the last time the xenophobic attacks happened, nothing was done, no action was taken and no arrest was made and that was why South Africans repeated the attacks.

“The government of South Africa is criminally quiet and they say silence is consent, and their police are folding their hands while they are killing Nigerians, this is conspiracy, enough is enough.”

Responding, the spokesperson, 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 over the xenophobic attacks.

He also assured that all diplomatic means would be explored to stop the killing of Nigerians in South Africa.

No compensation for victims of 2015 attacks – S/African envoy

Youths protesting xenophobic attacks on Nigerians living in South Africa, yesterday, in Abuja. Photos: Gbemiga Olamikan.

Meanwhile, as Nigerians continue to kick against the attacks, South Africa has ruled out payment of compensation, particularly, to victims of the 2015 xenophobic attacks.

South Africa High Commissioner to Nigeria, Lulu Mnguni, disclosed this during a joint press briefing with the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Khadijat Abba-Ibrahim, at the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja.

“On the question of compensation, I clearly indicated that it is not on the side of our government to quantify the compensation because those people were not acting on instructions. They were criminals and, of course, have to be arrested, “Mnguni said.

Reminded of the agreement of the bi-national commission to compensate the victims, the ambassador claimed not to be aware of the agreement. “Well, I was not part of that but I will follow up on that”, he promised.

He, however, reiterated that his government would never condone killings done either by the police or individuals.

He appealed to other countries to help find lasting solution to the issue, noting that it was not what his country alone could handle.

No Nigerian died in latest attacks  – Abba-Ibrahim

Earlier, the  Minister of State for Foreign Affairs dispelled rumours of death of any Nigeria in the latest attack and urged Nigerians, both within and in South Africa, to remain calm as both governments were already finding amicable solution to the crisis.

“The ministry has not received reports of any death of Nigerians in the latest incidence of 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 Cooperation 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.”

FG tasks S/African on safety of Nigerians during today’s protest

Following plans to launch a massive protest today by a local group in South Africa against foreigners, the Federal Government has asked the South African authorities to ensure the safety of Nigerians.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora Matters, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, who spoke  on Chennels Television programme, Sunrise, appealed to the South African authorities to provide security for Nigerians during the protest.

‘’We have called on Nigerians to stay indoors while the protest is on, so they are not attacked by the protesters.  We have also appealed to the South African government to provide security for Nigerians while the protest lasts,’’ she said.

Dabiri-Erewa said while the 2015 xenophobic attacks on foreigners were instigated by Zulu king, Buthelezi, the present one was being instigated by opposition politicians, who she accused of using the matter as campaign stunt to their people. She asked the South African government to rein-in on opposition politicians to stop hate campaign against foreigners in the country.

Rights group demands immediate action from FG

A human rights group, Advocates of Peoples Rights and Justice, APRJ, yesterday, called on the Federal Government to urgently address the attacks on Nigerians living in South Africa.

In a statement by its National Coordinator, Victor Giwa, the group said the attacks targeted on Nigerians and their investments by South Africans were gross violations of article 12 (1)(5) 19  and article 22, 23(i) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights.

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