Following what appeared to be reprisal attacks in outlets of South African businesses in Lagos, telecommunications giant has advised its staff to stay at and work from home on Wednesday.
At press time, it was not clear if the stay-at-home order was countrywide. An MTN office in Bodies, Ibadan was burnt down.
An angry mob stormed Shoprite outlets In Lagos on Tuesday and vandalised them, with an unverified death of one person allegedly shot dead.
MTN, Shoprite stores, and Multi-Choice (owners of DSTV) are the major South African companies with outlets in all States in Nigeria.
Another MTN directive advised outlet operators to double up the security at the connect stores to guard against any destruction.
A memo from MTN to staff reads: “In view of the recent events in the country, MTN management are prioritizing the safety of our staff and customers.
“Staff are to work from home tomorrow and look out for further updates.”
The other memo to outlet operators reads: “We are in collaboration with you in ensuring all lives and properties are safe. We strongly advise that you double up the security at the connect stores to guard against any destruction.
“Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause you.”
Following the incessant attacks on Nigerians and their businesses, there has been a nationwide outcry and calls for reprisals at governmental and non-governmental levels.
Rage filled the social media, and outlets of Shoprite stores in Lagos, as many scoffed at the rash of responses by government officials. They allege they are crocodile tears, seeing that not less than 100 Nigerians have been killed by South Africans and their Police.
President Muhammadu Buhari, despatched a Special Envoy to convey to President Cyril Ramaphosa his concerns and also interact with his South African counterpart on the situation.
He noted with deep concern, reported attacks on Nigerian citizens and property in South Africa since August 29, 2019, in a statement from his office.
The President instructed the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, to summon the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria and get a brief on the situation; express Nigeria’s displeasure over the treatment of her citizens; and assurance of the safety of their lives and property.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, expressed his own angst in Kano, while talking to reporters.
His words: “Let me say first that these recent attacks are condemnable. It is very sad and very unfortunate that the lives and livelihoods of Nigerians living in South Africa are once again being destroyed with such wantonness and with such carelessness and recklessness.
“It is unfortunate because Nigeria and Nigerians invested a great deal in the destruction and pulling down of apartheid. Besides, these acts of bigotry are entirely contrary to the very ideals that all the great South African leaders, including the present President fought for, and for which many gave their lives.
“Mr President has already spoken about this; and obviously we are very concerned and certainly intend to take this up with the authorities in South Africa in order to ensure that this sort of thing does not repeat itself. This is absolutely unacceptable and unconscionable.”
Senate President, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, in a statement expressed strong concern over the worsening xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals in South Africa in which Nigerians have been major victims.
He urges the Federal Government of Nigeria to accept nothing but the immediate cessation of hostility to Nigerians living in South Africa.
“Nigeria has had enough of its citizens being targets of these attacks and will no longer tolerate hate crimes in any form against its citizens who are doing legitimate businesses in that country,” he said.
He adds: “Xenophobic violence is most condemnable anywhere; more so in South Africa, a country whose citizens benefitted from the unwavered support and solidarity of Africans and freedom lovers across the world in their historic struggle against apartheid.
“More disturbing, however, is that these attacks indicate the neglect of educating the younger generations on the sacrifices that Africans proudly made towards expunging the scourges of colonialism and apartheid from their continent.
“The enormous contributions of Nigeria to this historic struggle is underscored by its recognition as a frontline state in the prolonged confrontation against the powerful racist regime that had held generations of Southern Africans in bondage and subhuman conditions.
“This recognition is in spite of the fact that Nigeria does not share geographical borders with the subregion and was far removed from the direct consequences of apartheid.
“The liberation of South Africa was rightly celebrated across the continent and the Black world as the final emancipation of Africans from colonialism and apartheid.
“It is therefore, an unacceptable irony that a section of South Africans would so soon, after now, choose other Africans in their country as the targets of mindless violent attacks over frustrations for which the innocent victims have no control.
“It would be recalled that I had on July 15, this year, met with the South African High Commissioner, Bobby Moroe, in Abuja over the same issue.
“At the meeting, I had said: ‘The South African Government must as a matter of urgency do whatever it takes to protect the lives and property of Nigerians living there, just as the Nigerian Government remain committed to the safety of South Africans residing here and their investments.
” ‘I believe we have faced enough, we will no longer take it anymore. The South African parliament must act fast to put a stop to this menace.”
He acknowledged the President’s actions, but insisted that every necessary step must be taken in protecting law-abiding foreigners, including Nigerians, and their businesses from hate crimes in South Africa.
He noted that South Africans and their businesses are prospering from the environment that Nigeria offers without discrimination, and demand no less from them.
Former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, also condemned the incessant xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other Africans, and called for suspension of ties with South Africa.
He described the attacks as “un-African, barbaric, and unparalleled acts of ingratitude”.
The former Speaker of the Parliament of Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS Parliament, regretted that the Government of South Africa had not wielded the big stick to end the attacks, and called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to consider suspension of diplomatic ties with the Southern African nation until things were put right.
He said: “I find the incessant xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other African nationals in South Africa very un-African, barbaric, and unparalleled acts of ingratitude. It is quite disturbing that the Government of South Africa has not taken decisive steps to end these attacks, which have led to wanton loss of lives and properties of fellow Africans, especially Nigerians.
“The attacks defy and desecrate everything African brotherhood stands for, especially for a country that gained freedom with the support, sweat, and sacrifice of fellow African nations among which Nigeria clearly stands out. The attacks have reached scary and desperate degrees and call for desperate actions on the part of Nigeria, other African nations, and the African Union.
“It will therefore not be out of place for the Federal Government to suspend diplomatic relations with SA until full assurance of safety of Nigerians and their properties in South African are secured, adequate compensation paid for the damages, and the perpetrators also brought to book”.
The lawmaker further called on the African Union, AU, to take drastic actions that would call South Africa to order, noting that “the African Union could be reduced to an empty shell if law abiding African nationals cannot find peace and safety in a fellow African nation like South African, but are instead savaged by people who should be their brother’s keeper”.
“The AU should therefore summon an emergency session to sanction South Africa; and a suspend from the Union for unprovoked acts of hostilities against fellow Africans whose countries fought for the freedom they enjoy today will not be out of place”, Ekweremadu added.