Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The Federal Government has disclosed that following new revelations regarding the maltreatment of Nigerians in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province of China, it will immediately begin the process of evacuation of the affected people.
This is even as the government said it will take the necessary measures to ensure compensation for the Nigerians who were involved in the recent maltreatment in China.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, who made the disclosure in Abuja, said he summoned the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr Zhou Pingjian, for the second time since the reports surfaced in the media to register Nigeria’s displeasure over the development.
Onyeama explained that after the government’s earlier position on the matter, new revelations showed that the issue was more than what the government thought it was.
Onyeama further said the Nigerian Ambassador to China, Baba Ahmed Jidda, as well as other African ambassadors in China, met with the Chinese Foreign Ministry and expressed their concern and made a number of demands of the Chinese Government, including the insistence on the respect for the rights and dignity of Africans and Nigerians in Guangdong.
Onyeama, however, said the Government of China was committed to looking into the matter and ensuring that there will be no maltreatment of any Nigerian or Africans in Guangdong Province, in Guangzhou or anywhere else in China.
“After we had made a statement in the media, I continued to receive information from Nigerians in China and I engaged directly with our officials in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province and people who were right on the ground.
“And I must say that contrary to what we had believed, that the situation was now fully under control and stabilised and there were no longer any issues, it became apparent that there were still, very distressing incidences and that it was almost as if it was an institutional attack on the rights and dignity of Nigerians and Africans there.
“So, as I said, with confirmation from people who were there, I again, invited today, the Chinese Ambassador and presented these facts to him. I said look, contrary to what was agreed, to the promises that had been made and guarantees given, that the situation does not seem to have ameliorated and this was totally unacceptable.
“That we have stories of Nigerians who had been evicted from their residence, who were unable to get back in; hotels where they had gone to be isolated, they had been moved and put in more expensive hotels and Nigerians not being served when they went to restaurants and to shopping malls and so forth. And this was totally unacceptable and something needed to be done,” Onyeama said.
Speaking further, Onyeama said even though the narratives were conflicting, even sometimes among Africans in the area, but that there was clearly the main narrative, a persuasive narrative of unacceptable treatment of Nigerians and other Africans in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province.
He added that even though there was an effort to contain an outbreak of COVID-19, including some Africans who came into the country and tested positive, that was absolutely no reason whatsoever to completely trespass on the rights and dignity of Nigerians and Africans in the city.
“I spoke to some of our people there in Guangzhou. And what do we do? And where do we go from here? Quite a lot of them, of course, said that they just want to come home and we are putting in place as quickly as possible, the mechanisms to start bringing them home. That clearly is the immediate solution here,” Onyeama added.