Members of Nigeria’s House of Representatives have urged government to urgently begin the evacuation process of all Nigerians, who have tested negative to COVID-19 in China and are willing to return home.
Spokesperson for the House, Benjamin Kalu, and nine others successful moved this motion at the resumed plenary on Tuesday.
The resolution was raised in line with the mandate of Section 14(2)(b) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended), to take actions to ensure the safety and welfare of Nigerians in China.
The lawmakers unanimously resolved to investigate the validity of all immigration documents of every Chinese person and the expatriate quota of all their businesses in Nigeria to ascertain the number of illegal and undocumented immigrants with the view to repatriating them to China.
SaharaReporters had a couple of weeks back reported how Nigerians in China were being forcefully ejected from their homes with the Chinese Government claiming Africans were now importing the deadly virus into the country.
Leading the debate on the motion, Kalu lamented that under the pretext of curbing the spread of COVID-19, which ironically originated from Wuhan, China, several kinds of maltreatments of Nigerian citizens in Guangzhou have been perpetrated by Chinese people and authorities.
He said, "These include wrongful confiscation of Nigerian international passports, prolonged and illegal detention of Nigerians in the name of mandatory quarantining despite holding a certificate of clean health and no recent travel history, outright refusal to test or release the test results, and the eviction of Nigerians from their homes, hotel accommodations, refusal of entry into shops, pharmacies, restaurants and hospitals, including the beating of Nigerians on the streets with no police intervention among others."
In the exercise of his function of protecting the interest of nationals of his sending state as provided for under Article 5 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations 1963, the Nigerian Consul General, according to Rep Kalu, "Was treated in clear violation of Article 40 of the same treaty which requires the receiving state to treat consular officers with due respect and to take all appropriate steps to prevent an attack on their persons, freedom or dignity.
“This dignity was abused by the Chinese Government when they ignored the request of the Nigerian High Commissioner to allow Nigerians back to their accommodation, access to hospitals or restaurants which led to the High Commissioner himself buying and distributing food to Nigerians who were hopeless and lying in the streets under the rain."
The spokesperson contended that the actions of the Chinese authorities do not reciprocate the favourable treatment enjoyed by their nationals in Nigeria who thrive and operate businesses.
It was therefore, resolved that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and all relevant ministries, departments and agencies should, "As a matter of urgency, ensure that all Nigerians who wish to return home, including Nigerians that only visited for business, Nigerians with any form of travel documents and identification, Nigerians with passports but expired visas, and Nigerians with passports and valid visas who have been ejected by house owners, Nigerians who have tested negative to COVID-19 are evacuated from China and quarantined upon arrival.”
The House also urged the Attorney-General of the Federation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and all relevant MDAs to provide all necessary financial and other assistance to any affected Nigerian in China, who wish to seek redress in any local or international court for breach of fundamental rights, loss of property or any other actionable cause occasioned by their maltreatment or discrimination in China.
As a result of the mutually beneficial diplomatic and economic relationship between Nigeria and China, about 10,000 Nigerians including investors, traders, workers and students currently reside in and around Guangzhou in the Guangdong Province of the Asian country and have generated massive trade volume between the two countries such that for 2019 alone, the Nigeria-China trade value was worth over $8.6bn.