Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamila and the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian during a meeting held on Friday 10 April 2020 at the National Assembly on the inhuman treatment of some Nigerians in Beijing, China.
BY LEVI JOHNSON
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Minority Leader, Rep. Ndudi Elumelu and Deputy Minority Leader, Rep. Toby Okechukwu on Friday quizzed the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian urging him to explain the reasons for the maltreatment meted on Nigerians in China
At the meeting with the Chinese Ambassador, the trio led by Gbajabiamila said such treatment of Nigerians in China must be addressed forthwith.
Gbajabiamila went ahead to confront the Ambassador with a video in which a Nigerian was seen challenging Chinese officials over the maltreatment.
The Speaker pointed out the viral media reports/videos from Beijing showed Nigerians being forced out of their houses and hotels, rounded up and their passports seized by the Chinese police.
The viral videos also showed that some Nigerians were being forced into another 14-day quarantine after the initial 14 days they had spent for the same purpose over the COVID-19 pandemic in China.
Gbagabiamila told him that there must be an official explanation for maltreating Nigerians in such a manner.
Asked the Chinese Ambassador if he had taken up the issue with his home country, the Speaker said: “If the diplomatic relationships 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 stigmatize the whole country,” Gbajabiamila stated.
“It appears that’s 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 community in China”.
In his reaction, Ambassador Pingjian said though he has not been officially informed about the details of the incidence, he would take it up with the home government.
His words: “We take our relationship with Nigeria very seriously. Until we receive a full report from 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 and today I will.”
In what looks like a mandate to the Ambassador, Gbajabiamila said the House will expect feedback from the Ambassador latest on Tuesday.
He said: “We are glad you are looking into it but we are hoping to have it at least by Tuesday.
“It is better we nip it in the bud so that it doesn’t escalate to another level. So, by Tuesday, if you have the information to give us, if steps have been taken, let’s talk about it and let’s see the way forward.”
Meanwhile, Gbajabiamila also sought to understand the specific mandate of the Chinese medical team that arrived Nigeria on Wednesday and if they are on quarantine.
In response, the ambassador confirmed that indeed the Chinese medical personnel are in full quarantine and ready to observe all protocols as stipulated by Nigeria.
“They are on 100 per cent quarantine. The NCDC has been there twice; they have to follow the protocol. They are here to deliver medical supplies and on advisory role only, that is a prevention working group on COVID-19. They will do nothing like practising as doctors,” Pingjian said.