By Adeola Badru
AS a reprisal of the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians in South Africa, some unknown persons late Tuesday night set ablaze the MTN office at Bodija in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
Some protesters had tried to attack other South African businesses located in some parts of Ibadan yesterday but were prevented by the presence of heavy security personnel stationed around.
Some residents in the area that spoke with Vanguard expressed displeasure over the development, calling for a more diplomatic approach towards handling the issue.
According to a resident, Mr. Olaiya Ogunmuyiwa: “This is not good. The government ought to have done something about it. This thing will affect Nigerians. How many South Africans are working in this office? Those working in this office will have their jobs affected.”
“We should be more diplomatic in our approach. But because the government is not proactive enough, I think that is why the people take laws into their hands.”
“But ordinarily, the president or that authority should have sanctioned them seriously, ask everybody not to use MTN line in Nigeria. That alone will be more effective than this.”
“Doing this might lead to a counter-attack in South Africa, which can put our people in another danger,” he opined.
In a similar view, another resident, Mr. Wale Ojo observed that the two countries (Nigeria and South Africa) should dialogue with a view of finding a lasting solution to the problem.
He noted that the reprisal attack was not the best option when a diplomatic approach could be employed.
In his words: “Reprisal attack is not the way to go in solving issues like this. I believe diplomatically, these problems could be solved, because waking up and see something like this is not pleasing, because Nigerians are working here.”
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Shina Olukolu, has called for caution.
The CP in a statement made available to journalists in Ibadan on Wednesday by the command’s Police Public Relations Officer, Olugbenga Fadeyi, said: “Attention has been drawn by credible sources that some aggrieved Nigerians have perfected plans to carry out coordinated attacks on South African economic interest in Nigeria including Shoprite and others.
“The faceless organisers are advised to desist from this planned dastardly act as it is an ill wind that will blow no one any good.”
He equally stated categorically that the police in the state wished to seize the opportunity to appeal to the aggrieved citizens for calm and allow the government to use diplomatic means to resolve the log jam.
Olukolu advised organisers of such protest not to allow it to degenerate to violence as social miscreants would capitalize on the opportunity not only to unleash mayhem and terror on innocent citizens but would also use the opportunity to loot shops and destroy goods worth millions of naira as well as inflict injury or even kill innocent citizens who will bear the brunt of the mayhem.
The commissioner of police stated further that the police as the lead agency in internal security would not fold its arms and allow any individual or group to cause chaos or breakdown of law and order.
He warned that: “Mischief makers, social miscreants and other criminally minded individuals who are bent on causing chaos or disorder in the state to have a rethink as the long arms of the law will catch up with them”.
The police chief added: “Therefore, all the peace-loving people of Oyo State are enjoined to go about their lawful businesses without any fear of molestation or threat from any groups or individuals as concerted efforts have been made to emplace effective security measures to respond adequately to any security threats from any quarters or groups who may be bent on disturbing the relative peace and tranquility being enjoyed by the law-abiding good citizens of Oyo State.”