Three armed police officers stand in front of the Novare Shoprite Mall in Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria. Reuters
Security was ramped up around South African businesses across Nigeria on Wednesday following a wave of reprisal attacks in response to violence against foreign-owned shops in South Africa, police said.
The move came a day after stores operated by the major supermarket chain, Shoprite, the telecoms giant MTN and other South African firms suffered looting and vandalism in several Nigerian cities, they said.
"We have stepped up security around MTN, Shoprite and other South African businesses across Nigeria," national police spokesman Frank Mba told the media.
South Africa has huge investments in Nigeria, with Shoprite, MTN, digital pay-television Multichoice and other companies jostling for a share of the continent's biggest market.
AFP reporters saw a heavy security presence Wednesday at Shoprite's office at the Jabi Lake Mall in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, where MTN also has a branch.
All gates leading into the mall were closed and customers were screened before they were allowed to enter.
The information commissioner for Lagos state, Gbenga Omotosho, said the Shoprite complexes at Jakande and Sangotedo Area in Ajah had been attacked "by some unidentified people claiming to be acting in retaliation against the attacks on Nigerians in South Africa."
"These attacks are condemned, as they are against the Nigerian spirit of accommodation and benevolence," he said in a statement.
Information Minister Lai Mohammed also warned in a statement that "targeting South African companies in Nigeria for attack was akin to cutting off ones nose to spite the face."
"The investors in such companies, especially MTN and Shoprite, are Nigerians," he pointed out
Nigeria on Tuesday summoned the South African ambassador for talks and said President Muhammadu Buhari was sending an envoy to convey his displeasure to President Cyril Ramaphosa.
South Africa and Nigeria stepped up security on Wednesday after deadly attacks on foreign-owned stores in Johannesburg triggered reprisals against South African businesses in Nigerian cities.
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