*Ask IGP to rescue Detained Nigerians
By Gift Chapi Odekina
The House of Representatives on Tuesday resolved to inveatigate an allegations of human rights violation and illegal detention of some Nigerians by a Chinese firm since the beginning of the lockdown in Edo State.
This followed a motion of urgent public importance brought by the Minority leader, Rep. Ndudi Elumelu, (PDP, Delta), noted that the Chinese steel company has been said to hold these Nigerians against their will in flagrant violation of the federal government covid-19 regulations.
The motion was titled: “Need to lNVESTlGATE an sos Call that a Chinese Company in Edo State of Nigeria has Continued to Detain its Nigerian Workers Since the Lockdown, in Flagrant Abuse of the FG’s Covid-19 Regulations”.
It noted with concern that “Yongxing, a Chinese steel company located at Ugua community of Edo State Nigeria is said to have locked down its Nigerian workers within the company’s facility, thereby depriving them access to their families since 24th day of March 2020 till date”.
“The Workers numbering over a thousand, are holed up there in 10 persons to a room bunker, making them live in a hazardous environment which has hinderéd the health of most of the workers.
“These Blotters are being made to work in slavish conditions 24hrs round the clock, day in and out for the last three months.
“The said Staffers were blackmailed not to divulge their new work conditions to anybody, failing which they would loose their jobs.
“Though the company’s authority claims the workers were held back for health and safety measures but they were made to work within the precincts in grueling conditions and compelled to swear to an oath of secrecy.
“The COVID-19 Regulations, 2020 stipulates that all businesses and offices should be fully closed, except for those engaged in essential services given the fact that Steel Companies are not amongst the exempted essential services providers, their actions therefore amounts to serious disrespect for our laws as well as a grave breach of their sworn social responsibility to Nigeria as a nation.
“Not only does the above situation amounts to an infringement of the fundamental right to liberty of the subjects, but to false imlDrisonment as well as a flagron’f abuse of several laws of the land including the. COVID l9 regulations 2020, labour laws and the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2004.
“Not too long ago in the thick of the global pandemic, we were scandalized to watch how the Chinese authorities dehumanized Nigerians in China by throwing them on the streets without shelter and protection of any kind.
“As much as this is yet another sad reminder of how the Chinese ride rough shod over our laws and treat Nigerians with so much disdain in their own country and sadly too in our own shores, the trend is becoming very worrisome and totally unacceptable”, Elumelu told his colleagues.
The House therefore adopted the prayer to direct the Inspector General of Police to immediateiy send a crack team to storm the said Youngxing Steal Company in Edo state with a view to ascertaining the SOS and to set free the said detained workers pending further investigations.
It also urged that the presidential committee on Covid 19 and the NCDC be put an notice to ensure post release management of the detained workers.
And that the relevant Committees of the House be directed to follow through on this report to ensure that an investigation is carried out and appropriate sanctions meted to the Chinese Company if found culpable.