Olaleye Aluko, Abuja
Following the reported maltreatment of some Nigerians living in China, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has demanded an end to the inhumane treatment of Nigerians living in the Asian country.
He said this when the leadership of the House met with the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian on Friday.
Gbajabiamila asked the Chinese envoy to look into viral media reports and videos from Beijing showing Nigerians being forced out of their houses and hotels. The videos further detailed how Nigerians were rounded up and their passports seized by the Chinese police.
Gbajabiamila told the ambassador, according to a release on Friday, that there should be an official explanation for treating Nigerians in such a manner.
The meeting was also attended by the Minority Leader, Ndudi Elumelu, and the Deputy Minority Leader, Toby Okechukwu.
The viral videos on Wednesday and Thursday showed some Nigerians in China being forced into another 14-day quarantine after the initial 14 days they spent for same purpose over the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gbajabiamila said, “If the diplomatic relationship between our two countries are for the mutual benefits of our citizens, then there must be respect for our citizens and we should not compromise it.
“As a government, we will not allow Chinese or other nationals to be maltreated just as we will not allow Nigerians to be maltreated in other countries. The way you treat your citizens, we expect that’s how you’ll treat others.
“We will not tolerate our citizens breaking your laws, but the crime of one citizen cannot be used to stigmatise the whole country. It appears that was what happened in this case. You can’t use one brush to smear the whole wall. Whatever the reason, it cannot be used and taken out on the entire (Nigerian) community in China.”
The ambassador, Pingjian, said he had not been officially informed of the details of the incident but that he would take it up with the government.
He said, “We take our relationship with Nigeria very seriously. Until we receive a full report back home, I cannot act, but I can assure you it is not a policy issue. We treat everyone equally, but during the implementation of the COVID-19 measures in China, it is possible for some incidents; all I do is to take it back home.”
The Speaker gave the Chinese envoy till Tuesday to get back to the legislature, adding that he hoped the Chinese medical team that arrived Nigeria on Wednesday were in quarantine.