The retaliatory attacks on shopping malls and South African institutions in Nigeria, which manifested in looting and destruction of property in Lagos, has shown that tension between South Africa and Nigeria is likely to continue until the deep underlying causes of self-hatred, and hatred against fellow African national are addressed. The attacks, a reaction to the burning of property of African immigrants in South Africa, started late afternoon and extended into the night.
Many have posited that the failure of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa to address the killings and wanton destruction of Nigerians and their properties in South Africa has primarily contributed to the mob reaction on the streets of Lagos.
Observers stated that the looting experienced in Lagos, some of which mostly affected Nigerian businessmen and women, were carried out by those who used the xenophobic attacks as a guise to steal and commit crime. Ben Murray-Bruce, business magnate and Senator representing Bayelsa East condemned the counterproductive retaliatory attacks.
Murray-Bruce writing on Twitter said: “Just received reports of reprisal attacks at Shoprite in Lekki, Lagos state. I know as Nigerians we are offended at the attacks against our brothers and sisters in South Africa. However, two wrongs can’t make a right. Therefore, I urge for calm amongst our brethren. #Xenophobia“.
The attention of the Lagos State Government has been drawn to the attacks on Shoprite Complexes at Jakande and Sangotedo Area of Ajah by some unidentified people claiming to be acting in retaliation against the attacks on Nigerians in South Africa#LASG #ForAGreaterLagos pic.twitter.com/hxyVCzuHP2
— The Lagos State Govt (@followlasg) September 3, 2019
The looting, some said, point to a bigger inequality problem in the Nigerian society; the gap between the rich and the poor seems to be widening. More than 91 million Nigerians are said to be in poverty and unemployment is getting higher.
The protests in Lagos also took a racial turn with reports that the demonstrators were searching if cars had any White person inside. The protests led to one person being shot by the Nigerian Police. While the protests took place in malls targeting shops such as Shoprite and SPAR, other small businesses owned by Nigerians were also affected and looted.
Nigerian activist Segun Awosanya said on Twitter, “Destroying franchises owned by indigenes on Nigerian soil is not a reprisal attack on South Africa’s xenophobia but a demonstration of self-genocidal antics influenced richly by foolishness and illiteracy. You are hurting the jobs of your fellow compatriots. This is not the way.”
Protests were taken to different branches of Stanbic IBTC Bank. The protests have led to business owners writing disclaimers saying they are not South African businesses in a bid to try and avert damage to their property. The indiscriminate attacks have led to huge financial losses.
MTN Nigeria has closed all its stores, according to a Reuters report. “The safety and security of our customers, staff and partners is our primary concern,” MTN Nigeria said in a statement.