Anti-South-Africa protest breaks out at Abuja Shoprite as Buhari calls for calm

Nigerians, on Wednesday morning, stormed a Shoprite mall in Abuja to protest the attack on their countrymen in South Africa.

But police officers reportedly prevented the protesters from attacking the mall as demonstrators burnt tyres and a billboard along Abuja-airport road.

Their actions caused a traffic build-up on the expressway causing diversion of traffic, Premium Times reported.

Wednesday’s protest followed recent deadly xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other Africans in South Africa.

Shoprite, a retail shopping outlet of South African origin, has been a major victim of retaliatory attacks by Nigerians.

Following the shocking attacks, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Malawi withdrew from the World Economic Forum (WEF) to be held in Capetown.

Zambia also cancelled a friendly match with South Africa’s Bafana Bafana.

President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, who has been criticised for reacting slowly and inadequately to the incidents, dispatched a special envoy to South Africa to table Nigeria’s grievances.

Back in Nigeria, angry protesters had razed an MTN office in Ibadan, Oyo State, on Tuesday. MTN, a telecoms giant, is also a South African business.

In Lagos on Tuesday, police shot one demonstrator dead as an anti-South-Africa demonstration turned violent and suspected looters descended on Lekki-based Shoprite.

Following the shooting, protesters set a police van on fire.

Lagos governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu reacted to the killing by saying he was “saddened by reports of violent and criminal activities against legitimate businesses across Lagos over xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa.”

“Do not allow yourself be used as a tool by criminal elements,” Sanwo-Olu said.

Information minister Lai Mohammed said retaliating against South African businesses in the country would hurt Nigerians more as Nigerians have higher stakes in South-Africa-owned businesses in the country. These businesses also employ many Nigerians who will lose their jobs if these businesses fail.

Foreign affairs minister Geoffery Onyeama said he has demanded answers from South Africa’s high commissioner to Nigeria.

A section of the Nigerian media suggests South African president Cyril Ramaphosa who, months ago, openly criticised foreign business owners, could be blamed for the recent xenophobic attacks.

“Everybody just arrives in our townships and rural areas, and set up businesses without licences and payments” Ramaphosa said while addressing thousands of supporters in March, TheCable reported.

Meanwhile, Nigerian singer Tiwa Savage has pulled out of a DSTV (another South African company) even in protest against the xenophobic attacks.

“I refuse to watch the barbaric butchering of my people in South Africa,” Savage said.

“This is sick. For this reason I will not be performing at the upcoming DSTV delicious festival in Johannesburg on the 21st of September.”

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