The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), yesterday, stormed the streets of Kaduna and Makurdi, Benue State to protest xenophobic attacks and killings of 118 Nigerians in the last two years.
They demanded that all South African businesses in Nigeria be closed, pending sufficient proof that Nigerians living anywhere in South Africa were safe and allowed to do their businesses freely.
In Kaduna, the protesting students closed the Kaduna office of South African Telecommunication giant, MTN.
NANS’ Director, Travels and Exchange, Mr. Dominic Philip, explained that the step was necessary to curb further attacks, looting, destruction and mindless killings of African nationalities, particularly Nigerians, in the Southern Africa country.
Philip recalled that Nigeria had contributed morally, financially, diplomatically and logistically to the agitations that eventually led to the emancipation of South Africans from white’s domination otherwise known as Apartheid.
The NANS official also said African countries led by Nigeria, helped in the institutionalisation of black majority rule in the country in 1994.
He said NANS would no longer align with the Nigerian government diplomatic approach, which is cosmopolitan and reconciliatory on the issue.
“Available record has shown that the level of attacks on Nigerians is on astronomical rise, with the recent killing of a Nigerian by South Africans, on July 20, increasing the number to 118 in the last two years.
“Out of this number, 13 were reportedly killed by South African Police in an extra-judicial manner.
“It appears that the South African government is incapable of bringing their citizens to order and stop the killings, leaving us with no option than to picket South African businesses until the killing is stopped.
“We, therefore, want the South African government to investigate and provide accurate number of Nigerians so far killed and prosecute perpetrators of xenophobic attacks to ensure justice for the victims.
“We equally want the government to generate data of all Nigerians, whose properties were burnt or looted for immediate compensation.”
In Makurdi, the angry students marched to MTN and DSTV offices as well as all other companies believed to be owned by South Africans and closed them down.
Speaking to newsmen at the MTN office in Makurdi, zonal national coordinator of NANS, Aba Oweicho Aba, said since South Africans have vowed not to allow Nigerians stay peacefully in their country despite the fact that Nigerians were at the vanguard of liberating the country during the apartheid, Nigerian students would not allow South Africans run businesses in Nigeria too.
Aba explained that the students had been mandated to shut down all South African businesses, including MTN, DSTV and Shoprite.
“If Nigerian businesses cannot enjoy peace and support to strive just as South African businesses enjoy from Nigerian government, it is only reasonable that all South African businesses should be closed down.
“We will not allow any South African business to thrive until a concrete arrangement is put in place to guarantee the safety of Nigerians in South Africa. We want to draw the attention of the international community to this dastardly act,” Aba said.
MTN Manager, Vera Obe, who spoke with the students expressed the organisation’s concern over the killings of Nigerians in South Africa and assured that deliberate actions were being taken to nip the ugly incident in the bud.
The students, who started the protest from the popular Wurukum Roundabouts marched through the major streets of the capital city to register their displeasure over the continued killing of Nigerians “by Africans in an African country.”
The swift response of the police foiled the closure of MTN and Shoprite in Anambra State by NANS, on Wednesday.