A former President of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Malachy Ugwummadu, has called on the police to investigate reports of maltreatment of Nigerians working in Chinese companies in Ogun State.
Ugwummadu described reports of forced labour as condemnable, adding that such acts violate all labour laws in the country and internationally.
Speaking in an interview with SaharaReporters, Ugwummadu urged the victims of forced labour to seek justice.
He said: “It is regrettable that there are still such incidences of forced labour and abuse of work regulations and conventions.
“Under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, no person shall be subjected to forced labour in any form that will amount to the abuse of their fundamental right to dignity of human person and liberty under section 34v and 35 as amended.
“Under international conventions and labour law, it is not permissible to subject workers to any form of forced labour. The news that they are disallowed to leave the workplace immediately sent the message of forced labour that is not acceptable under international labour laws.
“It is not just condemnable but actionable and those who have fallen victim of this illegal treatment should invoke the power under the laws particularly through the fundamental rights enforcement procedure rules, which allows them to enforce their rights to dignity of human person and liberty.”
Calling on the police to investigate the forced labour, the legal practitioner said owners of such companies should be made to face the law.
He added, “In the meantime, the Commissioner of Police in Ogun State must be immediately contacted to first of all secure the release of these people and investigate their claims.
“If it turns out that foreign nationals now have the temerity not just to use our citizens as forced labourers, casual workers but now as slave workers, then those foreign national should be brought face-to-face with the law in a way that serves as a deterrent to others who may be willing to perpetrate such."
He attributed the maltreatment to the economic situation of the country, adding that the government should fix the economy and provide jobs for the people.
“All of these transgressions are possible because Nigerians are not just vulnerable but susceptible to all manner of entrapment; they are willing to do anything trying to discover other locations of survival
“The government must quickly fix the economy of the country, provide jobs for the people, create enabling environment that will sustain our people in a way that they are no longer dehumanized and exposed to this kind of things,” Ugwummadu added.