Following attacks on its facilities in three Nigerian cities, MTN Nigeria; the Nigerian division of South African telecom operator, MTN Group, has announced that it will shut all stores and service centres in the country until further notice.
The facilities were attacked in retaliation after days of coordinated xenophobic attacks in South Africa chiefly targeting foreign-owned businesses, with Nigerians particularly affected by the outbreak of violence.
“The safety and security of our customers, staff, and partners is our primary concern,” MTN Nigeria said in a statement. “MTN condemns any acts of violence, prejudice, and xenophobia.”
Nigeria is MTN’s biggest market, with 58 million users in 2018 and accounts for a third of the South African group’s core profit. This makes it a prime target for reprisal attacks that are now being perpetuated across Nigeria by locals who appear to be aggrieved at the destruction to life and property that has befallen their compatriots in SA.
The latest wave of unrest in South Africa has raised fears of a recurrence of violence in 2015 aimed at foreigners and in which at least seven people were killed. Before that, some 60 people were killed in a wave of unrest around the country in 2008.
Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, said on Tuesday he was urgently sending a special envoy to meet with President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa to secure the “safety of (Nigerian citizens’) lives and property”.
Police have yet to ascertain the cause of the violence, which erupted on Sunday when protesters armed with clubs and makeshift weapons marauded the streets of Pretoria’s business district, pelting shops with rocks and petrol bombs, raiding shops, and running off with goods.
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