Nigerian govt makes U-turn, takes decision as it confirms maltreatment of Nigerians in China

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, on Friday said Nigerians in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province of China, will soon be evacuated after investigation confirmed that they are truly being maltreated.

Recall that the Nigerian government had last week blamed poor communication between the Chinese authorities and African consulates in Guangzhou, China, for the allegation of maltreatment of Nigerians in the country.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, had said lack of communication made a lot of Nigerians and Africans misunderstand what was happening in China.

He had said if there was effective communication, African consulates would have assisted the Chinese authorities in the action it was taking.

But Speaking during a media briefing on Friday,. Onyeama said the decision to evacuate Nigerians became necessary, following new revelations after speaking to Nigerian officials in Guangzhou.

He said some Nigerians have indicated interest to return to Nigeria.

“ We are putting in place, as quickly as possible, the mechanisms of bringing them home. That is the immediate solution to their plight.”

The Minister explained that following the new revelations, he summoned the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr Zhou Pingjian, for the second time, and expressed Nigeria’s displeasure over the situation.

Onyeama said new revelations showed that the issue was more than what the government thought it was.

He said Nigeria’s Ambassador to China, Amb. Baba Jidda, as well as other African Ambassadors in China met with the Chinese Foreign Ministry and expressed their concern.

He said they insisted on the respect of the rights and dignity of Africans and Nigerians, adding that the Chinese government was committed to looking into the matter to ensure that no Nigerian or African in Guangdong Province or anywhere in China was maltreated.

According to him, although the narratives among Africans in the area were conflicting, there was clearly the main narrative of ‘unacceptable treatment of Nigerians and other Africans in Guangdong Province.

Onyema noted that even as there is an effort to contain an outbreak of COVID-19, there was no reason to abuse the rights and dignity of Nigerians.

“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.

“I must say that contrary to what we had believed that the situation was fully under control and that there were no longer issues, it became apparent that there were still very distressing incidences.

“We found out 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, contrary to the promises that had been made and guarantees given, the situation does not seem to have ameliorated and this is totally unacceptable.

“I told him that we have stories of Nigerians who had been evicted from their residences, who were unable to get back into hotels where they had gone to be isolated.

“I also told him that Nigerians are not being served when they go to restaurants and to shopping malls and so forth. I told him that such was totally unacceptable and something needed to be done,” NAN quoted him as saying.

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