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Youths threaten reprisal attacks on S’African interests in Nigeria

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southafrica xenophobia• Nigerians who suffered losses may be compensated, says minister • MTN condemns attacks on foreigners

FOLLOWING the ongoing xenophobic attacks in South Africa against foreigners including Nigerians, The Flagship, an affiliate of Edo State civil society organisations, yesterday threatened to shut down South African firms operating in Nigeria.

There were also similar protests in Abuja, the Federal Capital , where even more Nigerians registered their grievances over the attacks. This is coming on the heels of a statement credited to the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Musliu Obanikoro that Nigerian citizens affected by the xenophobic attacks in South Africa will be compensated.

Meanwhile, MTN Nigeria has condemned in strong terms, the on going xenophobic attacks on Nigerians, businesses and other foreign black nationals in South Africa. But reacting to the attacks, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on President Goodluck Jonathan to urgently take legal action against the South African government before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to seek effective remedies, including adequate compensation, for Nigerian victims of xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

The protesters in Benin City marched to MTN offices on 3rd East Circular road, Muritala Muhammed Way, in Benin City, carrying placards , some of which read: 
“Xenophobia is ‎Inhuman,” “Zuma, Call Your Boys to Order” and “S/Africans Can’t be Making Money From us and Killing us.” Spokesperson for The Flagship, Austin Enabulele, while condemning the attacks , said the protest was a warning to the South African government to stop the attacks or risk losing its investments.

“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 tell 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 and we know of every other companies that belong to South Africa.
”

One of the organizers of the Abuja protest, Deji Adeyanju said one of his friends in South Africa told him they were afraid to come out of their homes. Adeyanju said one of them, who works in an automobile company, said some of his neighbours were wondering what they were still doing in that country. “We also feel the plight of fellow Africans and foreigners who feel this same way. We use the opportunity to call on the South African government to act now.

“We are more concerned about the South African government stopping the violence.” Obanikoro , in a television interview said that Nigerian High Commissioner, Martin Cobham and others were taking stock of damages done to Nigerians to ensure that adequate compensation would be given to them. “We have situations where some of our people lost their shops in this attack. “We are taking stock of the damages done to them and we are going to be engaging the South African government.

“This is a very shameful situation and it has attracted a lot of international outcry. “I think the leaders have seen the need to ensure that the xenophobic attacks do not escalate.

“The attitude is now more promising and within the next few days we should be able to put this behind us,” he said. SERAP in a statement yesterday by its executive director, Adetokunbo Mumuni condemned the attack, describing it as unacceptable as it clearly violates the obligations of South Africa under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. decisive action from our government. According to him: “Both South Africa and Nigeria have ratified the African Charter.

If President Goodluck Jonathan is to side with the victims and ensure that they receive adequate compensation he has to immediately instruct the Attorney General of the Federation Mohammed Adoke, to urgently file an inter-state communication before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

“There is no better time for President Jonathan to do this as the African Commission is meeting this week in Banjul, The Gambia for its 56thOrdinary Session. Articles 48 and 49 read together with Article 47 provide the legal basis for Nigeria to submit communication against South Africa for violations of the right to life and non-discrimination provisions of the Charter.

Countries like Uganda have taken full advantage of this procedure in the past and there is absolutely no reason why Nigeria can’t do the same.” MTN Nigeria, which said that the xenophobic attacks was not state sponsored, but was just from a minute number of South Africans that are aggrieved about some issues in the country, however, urged strong measures against it’s spread.

MTN Nigeria’s Corporate Service Executive, Akinwale Goodluck in Lagos, yesterday, said MTN Nigeria is a Nigerian company with South African root, but that 99 per cent of work force in the company are Nigerians.

Goodluck, who said the company was concerned about several online cries for reprisal attacks and boycotts of South African firms including. MTN, Multichoice, owners of DStv; Shoprite; PEP; Protea Hotels among others in Nigeria, however said the MTN Group would provide financial assistance to the displaced foreign nationals that will cover temporary accommodation; food; beddings and blankets; medicals among others.

“MTN Nigeria joins comity of nations to condemn in all ramifications xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals in South Africa. MTN Nigeria is a Nigerian company with South African root.

We believed that boycott or reprisal attacks of South African firms in Nigeria will not augur well for the country’s development. “There should be no cause for revenge in Nigeria.

We are confident that South African government will deal with the matter, which they have been able to bring under control in the last few days”, he stated.

Also the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has joined its counterpart in South Africa, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATUU) in condemning the attacks on African working people and nationals of South Africa which have claimed several lives. Deputy President of NLC, Comrade Issa Aremu while condemning the attacks, said that it was “ a reckless violent attacks on African working people and nationals in South Africa with unacceptable resultant avoidable destruction of lives and properties”.

Aremu who said that most of “these serial xenophobic attacks on innocent African workers are grossly unwarranted, condemnable and unacceptable”, explained, “we believe that African workers and foreigners have a right to seek legitimate work anywhere in the continent based on the dream and ideals set by the founding fathers such as Kwame Nkruma, Julius Nyerere, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nelson Mandela among others”.

Also, the National Association of Nigeria traders (NANTS) has called on the Federal Government to, as a matter of urgency, begin evacuation of Nigerians in South Africa and not to wait until things get out of hand.

The president of the association Ken Ukaoha who made the call in Abuja yesterday explained that he has been receiving distress calls from Nigerians resident in South Africa that there is a fresh plan to attack designated markets in Johannesburg, Durban and other cities where Nigerian traders are predominantly located and doing their legitimate businesses.

‘’We therefore strongly call on the federal Government of Nigeria to rise up to the occasion by having immediate contingency plans to evacuate Nigerians within 24 hours to avoid our losing our citizens to these attacks; or better still impress on the South African Government the need to do all within its power to guarantee the safety of lives and properties of our brothers, Nigerians and other Africans who have not violated any known convention or laws by choosing to establish in South Africa.”


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