By Ralph Ezepue
More than 300 businessmen and women of Nigerian origin who are trapped in the Chinese business capital, Guangzhou, since the global COVID-19 lockdown, are at the brink of facing eviction and starvation.
The affected Nigerians have been sending Save our Souls (SoS) messages to the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), through phone calls and social media in the early hours of April 28, appealing to the federal government for help.
They said that at the moment, they are left without money to foot their hotel accommodation and feeding in China and may be evicted and denied food anytime this week.
The Nigerians, who appealed to President Muhammad Buhari to have pity on them, their families and loved ones back home, informed the CLO that they have no money on them again to retain their hotel rooms and feed.
Most of them are businessmen and women who travelled to China for business transactions but have been trapped due to covid-19 lockdown.
A message from one of such stranded people says: “Please, use your good offices to convey to the Nigerian authorities and people our plights here in China. We are not resident here. We have nobody to take care of us, nor are we illegal persons.
“We are patriotic Nigerians who came here to buy articles of trade and got trapped by this global pandemic. Ask our government to save us from international embarrassment”.
The CLO in a statement said that the Chinese government which, hitherto, seized their international passports, has released them to these Nigerians.
“Also, the victims who regularly tested for Corona virus, have been testing negative of the terror disease.
“They sent the specimen of the certificates from the Chinese medical authorities signifying that they are free from coronavirus infections,” CLO stated.
Another source, according to the CLO said that they are not asking the Nigerian government to fly them back to Nigeria on free expenses”, adding, ”we have our return tickets with Ethiopian Airlines back to Nigeria.
“Despite that, we are willing to comply with whatever legal directives that our government would provid for us back home.”
Another of the stranded Nigerian told CLO that there are internationally recognized practices of handling people returning from another countries.
According to the source, ”you can fly us to one city in Nigeria, say for instance, Abuja or Lagos and quarantine us there for 14 days, subjecting us to NCDC tests and if after those 14 days we test negative to the disease, then, you allow us to rejoin our families.
“We are not asking that we be flown to Nigeria to join our homes without undergoing these processes”.
The CLO in the statement appealed to the Nigerian gobernment to expedite actions on arrangements to bring these stranded Nigerians home without further delay.
“We fear for these Nigerians who may soon be thrown out of their hotels to wander the streets of China and starve and also be approved by the authorities there and punished for offences they did not mean to commit.
“Reports from China of late do not speak favourably of the natives’ actions towards Africans.
“The CLO is afraid that these Nigerians may face dangerous threats to their lives in the hands of security agents and the natives when they are thrown out of their hotel rooms.
“Our second source of fear stems from the rumour of another developing news of a new dangerous virus in China called Hantavirus.
“The Global Times reported that the virus related disease is said to have started attacking people in Yunnan province of that country where one deceased victim has been registered.
“It is advisable to evacuate our people out of China before the new disease spread in that country, ” according to a statement Ibuchukwu Ezike, Executive Director CLO.
The CLO also appeals to the international community, the National Assembly, leaders of thought, Nigerian mothers and religious leaders to support the appeal to the government to immediately fly these Nigerians back home.