Xenophobia: Nigerian police arrest 125 suspected looters, intensify security for foreigners

Photo: Courtesy Jide Oyekunle (via Facebook)
Security Operatives used to illustrate story

The police on Wednesday announced additional security measures have been approved for foreign embassies, missions and businesses across Nigeria.

The alert followed sporadic violence and looting of businesses by hoodlums across Nigeria. The hoodlums hijacked the widespread outrage being expressed by Nigerians against the xenophobic attacks in South Africa over the past week.

Several businesses, assumed to belong to South Africans, have been looted or destroyed in Lagos, Ibadan, Uyo and other parts of the country since Tuesday. A large billboard carrying MTN commercials but owned by a Nigerian was destroyed in Abuja on Wednesday morning, and the police foiled an attempt to breach a shopping mall in Abuja’s Lugbe suburb.

The looters and rioters have defied calls for peace by the Nigerian government and other critical voices across the country, most of whom warned that the violence being targeted at businesses was counterproductive.

The police have been accused of not doing enough to contain the rioters in Lagos. A police vehicle was burnt down before a famous shopping mall in Lekki was looted Tuesday night. An outlet of a clothing retailer, PEP, was also looted Tuesday evening. One Nigerian reportedly died in the Lekki violence.

Inspector-General Muhammad Adamu said on Wednesday that foreigners across the country would be protected against further aggression, warning citizens to desist from any form of thuggery and vandalism.

Foreign embassies, missions and businesses will receive increased security measures across Nigeria, the police said.

“All zonal assistant inspectors general of police and commissioners of police across the federation have been placed on red alert to ensure no similar violence is replicated within the country,” police spokesperson Frank Mba said in a statement from the Force Headquarters Wednesday night.

Mr Mba, a deputy police commissioner, said 125 suspects were arrested in connection with the violence and looting in Lagos on Tuesday, with some of the stolen goods recovered.

“While recognising the rights of citizens to air their views on salient national issues as enshrined in our statutes, the force reiterates that these must be done within the confines of the law,” Mr Mba said. “Would-be miscreants and criminally-minded persons who masquerade as protesters are therefore warned to stay off the streets of Nigeria as the force will not hesitate to bring to bear the full weight of the law on any such lawbreaker.”

“Parents and guardians are therefore enjoined to prevail on their children and wards to desist from acts capable of causing a breakdown of law and order in the country,” he added.

In the meantime, those who have been taken into custody would be investigated for theft, malicious damage, arson and disturbance of public peace, police said.

The police assured all law-abiding citizens, embassies, foreign missions, foreigners and their businesses within the country of their security and safety.

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