The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), yesterday, gave all South African companies operating in Nigeria to shut down within seven days and move out of the country.
The umbrella body of students in Nigeria specifically mentioned telecommunications giant, MTN, Multichoice and Shoprite.
The ultimatum, which was issued at a joint press conference addressed by the leadership of NANS and the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), came on the heels of incessant attacks and murder of Nigerians in South Africa.
President of NANS, Comrade Danielson Akpan, who handed down the ultimatum, said these companies linked to South Africa must leave Nigeria “in their own interest” as the students can no longer tolerate the incessant harassment, brutalisation and killing of Nigerians in South Africa.
In an address titled: “South Africans Must Go; Nigerians Return Home From South Africa,” Akpan recalled that members of NANS have been on the streets in major cities of Nigeria in the last two weeks picketing South African businesses to draw global attention to the mindless killings of Nigerians and looting of their properties in South Africa.
He said that the picketing exercise was peacefully carried with the hope that the government of South Africa and her citizens would end all forms of attacks on citizens of Nigeria and other African nations.
“Behold, the killings have continued and has even assumed a more dangerous dimension. This worsening development calls for a swift reaction. Importantly, we want to call on Nigerians in South Africa to reconsider their stay in South Africa and return home.
“Having gone through the first phase without any remorse or practical action to end xenophobic attacks in South Africa, we wish to announce that Nigerian students have decided to take on South Africans same way they are doing to our people. We have seen the helplessness of the South African government in reining in their citizens and wish to condemn in unambiguous terms the continued pampering of those involved. Every nation has own internal crisis hence no citizen of other nation should be sacrificed for criminal activities of South Africans or any other.
“Since the economic prosperity of Nigerians can no longer be tolerated and their lives secured in South Africa, there’s no need also to condone the continued flourishing of South African businesses and her citizens in Nigeria.
“We therefore wish to officially ask all South African-owned businesses in Nigeria to relocate in the next seven days. We specifically want Multichoice, MTN, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Shoprite and others to close their businesses in their own interest within seven days.
“In the same vein, we request that South African nationals in Nigeria should return to their home country as we can no longer watch them enjoy peaceful living in Nigeria while our citizens in their country continue to pay with dear lives for no reason other than being resourceful and flourishing in their businesses and career.
“We have consistently maintained that diplomacy has failed in addressing the xenophobic question. We have heard and seen diplomatic measures put in place without any sincere action taken by the South African government. We have seen again that the people of South Africa are not committed to peaceful coexistence with other nationals, hence the wanton killings and destruction of other Africans.
We have now come to a point where action is required to safeguard Nigerians and enforce their dignity. To this end, we announce the commencement of Operation Clampdown on South Africans and their businesses in Nigeria.
“The Central Coordinating Committee of the entire student movement in Nigeria is hereby activated for mass action. We thank all those who have shown genuine concerns in ending the xenophobic madness and wish to reassure our citizens everywhere across the globe of our determination to fight this to a logical conclusion,” he said.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has, however, appealed for calm on the part of NANS to allow for an exhaustive diplomatic negotiations at the highest levels.
The NIDCOM chair disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari has concluded arrangements to meet with his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa, over the continued killing of Nigerians living in the country through xenophobic attacks.
She said the two leaders, barring any changes, will meet in Abuja to discuss other bilateral issues that will strengthen the relationship between both countries.
Dabiri-Erewa explained that the situation in South Africa on the attacks have reached an alarming level where decisive action must be taken to avoid a further degeneration.
The NIDCOM chair said when the new cabinet of President Buhari is constituted, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and that of South Africa will also meet to continue with earlier diplomatic policy discussions on how best to tackle the tension created as a result of the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians living in the country.
She said: “Really it’s pathetic, it’s sad. As we said before, until about 2016, we have had 118 Nigerians killed in South Africa. Between 2018 and today, 88 Nigerians have been killed in South Africa. Out of this 88, 25 were cases of Nigerians killing Nigerians and we have had the case of Mrs. Elizabeth Chukwue who was murdered in her hotel room.”
The NIDCOM CEO, who demanded full investigation into these cases, noted: “Eight policemen are currently being investigated in South Africa for their involvement in killings of Nigerians. That investigation must come to an end and there must be consequences for their actions.
“We also must know who killed Mrs. Elizabeth Chukwu who went for a conference and died in her hotel room.
“We know that every country has their own challenges, we have ours and they have theirs. But killing other people is not the solution to anything. If a Nigerian commits a crime you deal with the person.”