Police Arrest 125, Guard Embassies, MTN as Protests Spread

Protests against xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa continued on Wednesday with the Federal Government declaring that Nigeria would boycott the World Economic Forum on Africa scheduled for the former apartheid enclave.

Though the Federal Government beefed up security at companies including the MTN and Shoprite linked to South Africa, this could not stop protesters from attacking some of these companies in cities across the nation.

The Federal Government also expressed its determination to end the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians living in South Africa once and for all.

The government’s latest stance came after a morning meeting summoned by President Muhammadu Buhari to review developments so far.

At the meeting were Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama.

The meeting resolved that “enough is enough,” adding that this time round, Nigeria would ensure that attacks on its citizens in South Africa must end.

Onyeama, who spoke with State House Correspondents after the meeting, said several measures had been reached and would be unfolded in the days ahead.

He stated that talks with the South African authorities would be detailed this time round and would shape the pattern of the Nigeria-South Africa relations in the years ahead.

Onyeama confirmed that one option considered was that Nigeria’s High Commissioner to South Africa, Ambassador Kabiru Bala, should return home.

However, he clarified that this would be after the special envoy Buhari sent to his South African counterpart, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, would have concluded the assignment and reported back to the President.

He declined to name the special envoy for “security reasons” but added that he was expected to be back from South Africa by the weekend.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has ordered water-tight security around foreign missions, foreigners and their businesses across the country.

He has also placed zonal Assistant Inspectors-General of Police and Commissioners of Police across the federation on red alert to ensure that no similar violence was replicated in the country.

This was as the police said they had arrested 125 suspects for allegedly attacking and looting Shoprite outlet in Lekki area of Lagos on Tuesday, under the pretext of protesting against the xenophobic attacks in South Africa.

A good number of looted valuables were said to have been recovered by the force.  “The force has commenced investigations and profiling of the arrested suspects with a view to establishing their connection with the stealing, malicious damage, arson and disturbance of public peace on the day of the incident,” the force spokesman, DCP Frank Mba, disclosed in a statement on Wednesday.

The IG condemned the violent attacks, noting that three police officers were seriously injured while an operational vehicle was set ablaze during the attack.

The police noted, “Miscreants and criminally-minded people who masquerade as genuine protesters are, therefore, warned to stay off the streets of Nigeria as the force will not hesitate to bring to bear the full weight of the law on any such law-breaker.”

The Punch

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