COVID-19: Reps grill Chinese Envoy over treatment of Nigerians
•NCDC visits Chinese medical personnel twice - Ambassador
The leadership of the House of Representatives on Friday expressed grave displeasure over the inhuman treatment meted out on some Nigerians by the Chinese authorities in Beijing.
The Speaker of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila who expressed the concern at a meeting with the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian, warned that the inhuman treatment on Nigerians in China must be addressed forthwith.
The Speaker who confronted the Chinese Ambassador with the protest video of the incidence where a Nigerian was seen challenging Chinese officials over the imposition of an additional 14-day quarantine period on Nigerians without previous notification to the Nigerian Mission in China.
At the meeting, which had in attendance the Minority Leader, Rep. Ndudi Elumelu and Deputy Minority Leader, Rep. Toby Okechukwu, the Speaker said 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 spent for the same purpose over the COVID-19 pandemic in China.
The Speaker said there should be an official explanation for treating Nigerians in such a manner.
While asking the Chinese Ambassador if he has 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.
“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 response, Ambassador Pingjian said though he has not been officially informed about the details of the incidence but that he would take it up with the home government.
“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, today I will,” he said.
The Speaker said the House will expect feedback from the Ambassador as soon as possible, saying “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.”
The Speaker also sought to understand the specific mandate of the Chinese medical team that arrived in Nigeria on Wednesday and if they are on quarantine.
The Ambassador said the Chinese medical personnel is in full quarantine and ready to observe all protocols as stipulated by Nigeria.
“They are on 100 percent quarantine. The NCDC has been there twice; they have to follow the protocol. They are here to deliver medical supplies and on the advisory role only, which is a prevention working group on COVID-19. They will do nothing like practicing as doctors,” he said.