Xenophobic Attacks: Protesters Invade MTN Office in Abuja

Some hoodlums, on Thursday, took advantage of a protest by some students in Abuja to invade a regional office of telecommunications giant, MTN, where they vandalised office equipment and looted phone sets, laptops and personal effects.

MTN is a South African firm.

Recently, Nigerians in South Africa were objects of widespread and gruesome xenophobic attacks.

The vandals also damaged car windscreens and stole cash and phones before the arrival of policemen at the office, located at 4 Madeira Street, Maitama, FCT.

The office subsequently shut down its operation following the incident as policemen took over the area to protect the building from being further looted.

An MTN worker said the staff scampered to safety while the attack lasted.

The worker, who simply identified himself as Oscar, said, “I just heard people running; then, I started running to hide and by the time we came out after the security operatives chased them out, they have packed all the laptops we used to work, all the phones on display for sale. They broke some computers and took people’s personal phones and money.”

He narrated that cash was also taken by the miscreants, but could not give the exact amount said to have been stolen.

“The people got into the premises, broke the windscreen of a car and destroyed the doors to the reception; they were chanting anti-South African songs after they were chased outside the premises by security operatives,” he added.

Some students under the aegis of the National Association of Nigerian Students, had started a protest at the South Africa High Commission in Abuja on Thursday.

The protesters burnt the former apartheid enclave’s national flag to express their anger over the attacks on Nigerians and other foreigners in parts of Pretoria, South Africa.

The students, led by their President, Aruna Kadiri, also stormed two South African firms, MTN and Multichoice, to register their anger.

At the South Africa High Commission, the protesting students issued a 48-hour ultimatum to South African nationals to leave Nigeria.

They also urged the officials to cancel the dinner organised in honour of Regina Tambo, the co-founder of African National Congress Youth League.

The students later moved to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where their leader admonished the government to take concrete action to protect Nigerians in South Africa.

Kadiri asked the Federal Government to break diplomatic ties with Pretoria over the attacks and looting of business premises owned by Nigerians.

He said, “We are demanding that they (FG) should break the ties between both countries if there’s any because the xenophobic attacks that had happened long time ago has happened again. We have decided to clear the madness with madness.”

The student leader explained that they burnt the South African flag 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,” Kadiri threatened.

He stated that the treatment being meted out to Nigerians was particularly insulting given the role Nigeria played in ending apartheid in South Africa.

The spokesperson for the Foreign Affairs ministry, Clement Aduku, urged the students to calm down, saying the government was currently engaging South Africa on the attacks.

But the police warned individuals and groups against indulging in acts that could  lead to the destruction of properties and cause a breakdown of law and order in the Federal Capital Territory.

A statement by the FCT Police Command spokesman, Anjuguri Manzah, said the command would not hesitate to apply the appropriate sections of the law in the prosecution of those arrested for causing the breakdown of law and order.

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