South African MTN closes offices in Nigeria over fear of xenophobic reprisal

Thursday, September 5th, 2019 09:50 |
Nigerian police officers beef up security in during a protest in Abuja, capital of Nigeria, Sept. 4, 2019. (Xinhua/Olatunji Obasa)

South African telecommunications giant MTN on Wednesday ordered the closure of all its offices and service outlets in Nigeria amid rising tension to unleash mayhem on them in reprisal of xenophobic attacks in the rainbow nation.

In a statement reaching Xinhua in Abuja, the telecoms firm said its decision remained till further notice.

MTN confirmed the attack on some of its facilities in Lagos, Nigeria's commercial hub; the cities of Ibadan in the southwest region and Uyo in the southeastern part of the country.

"MTN Nigeria Communications PLC confirms that over the last day, our facilities, customers and some of our stakeholders have been the subject of attacks in retaliation for the ongoing xenophobic situation in South Africa," said the statement.

Renewed attacks hit Johannesburg on Monday, with some Nigerians reportedly among the victims. The latest xenophobic attacks started since August 29.

In retaliation against the attacks, some protesters had reportedly taken to the streets to loot and attack known South African businesses, including grocery stores.

"While we remain committed to providing uninterrupted services, the safety and security of our customers, staff, and partners is our primary concern," the telecoms provider said. "All MTN stores and service centers will, therefore, be closed as a precaution until further notice."

"MTN condemns any acts of violence, prejudice, and xenophobia and remains absolutely committed to ensuring a peaceful, harmonious and respectful relationship with all communities in Nigeria and across Africa," it added.

Nigerian security authorities said they have beefed up security around South African businesses in the country.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday appointed a special envoy to South Africa in the wake of the attacks affecting Nigerians in that country.

The special envoy dispatched by the Nigerian leader is expected to arrive in Pretoria on Thursday at the latest, to convey his concerns to the South African president and interact with him on the situation.

Presidents of the two countries are scheduled to meet in October for bilateral talks and also on matters relating to the security of Nigerians in South Africa. (Xinhua)

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