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Coronavirus Panic: Woman married to Italian man denied access into Abuja hotel

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CASALINDA Hotel and Gallery resort, located in Wuse area of Abuja, has come under scrutiny over alleged discrimination against one Mitchelle Iannone, a Nigerian lady married to an Italian man, identified as Fabio.

It was gathered that she was denied to access to stay in the hotel after her husband who is in Italy paid for a four-day lodge on her behalf.

On February 26, Fabio who left the shores of Nigeria for Italy two days before, made a booking for his wife, Mitchelle through Booking dot com, reserving a room for four nights, from March 1, using his foreign credit card.

Booking dot com platform
Photo: Dorothy Njemanze

According to the hotel manager, identified simply as Mr James, who was contacted by The ICIR, the policy of the booking platform requires a 10 percent of the total chargeable amount is paid initially and the balance is charged once the reservation is confirmed by the hotel and retained by the customer.

Thus, following procedure, the reservation and payment was confirmed by the hotel in a message sent to Fabio, which shows that a total of 308.33 dollars, about N112,694, was paid with the merchant identification registered as 1678234.

Message sent to Iannone
Photo: Dorothy Njemanze

Mitchelle, told The ICIR that she decided to check-in a day earlier than previously booked and offered to pay cash at the point of lodge. In addition, she informed the management of the hotel that she would be arriving with five boxes as she was moving out of her apartment and plans on relocating from the country.

The manager of the hotel affirmed to Michelle that there was room for her luggages and she could arrive anytime.

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However, Mitchelle’s plans were altered when the hotel sent a message to her husband saying: “Good day sir, due to the global threat of coronavirus, your hotel reservation with Casalinda Hotel has been cancelled.”

Message sent to Iannone
Photo: Dorothy Njemanze

Mitchelle told The ICIR that the hotel further informed her that her payment would be refunded but, she would only be getting 70 percent of her full deposit, according to the hotel policy.

The ICIR visited the hotel in Abuja where the receptionist, Florence John confirmed that the incident happened on Saturday.

According to John, the attention of the hotel management was drawn to the fact that the payment of the reservation was done from Italy – a country that has recorded over 800 cases of coronavirus and 21 deaths since an outbreak occurred in the European country.

Also on Thursday, it was announced that an Italian citizen, who arrived Nigeria earlier, tested positive to the virus after developing a fever and visiting a hospital in Ogun state.

Despite informing the hotel management that she (Mitchelle) hasn’t been to Italy in the last six months and her husband only travelled recently, John confirmed to The ICIR that the Director of the hotel, Mr James, instructed that a full refund should be made to the customer and the booking cancelled.

A sum of N88,967 was registered in the book of the hotel as payment by Mitchelle as sighted by The ICIR, a 22 percent decrease from her total payment of N112, 694.

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Acting based on instruction, the hotel manager went on to cancel the reservation, promising to refund the said amount to the customer.

Mitchelle refused the refund, asking that her total money be refunded as the hotel initiated the cancellation and not her.

As at the time of filing this report, Mr Richard, the hotel manager, claims that they plan to refund the complete money, N112,694 to the customer and have requested for the customer’s account details.

However, the customer, Mitchelle, says that the hotel manager told her she is only entitled to 70 percent of the payment made by her husband based on hotel policy and it is for that reason she has refused to accept the refund.

At the moment, the customer is yet to get her refund.

The hotel maintains that they are unable to accept her as a guest because of the ‘global threat of Coronavirus.’

Dorothy Njemanze, founder of Dorothy Njemanze foundation, an NGO focused on promoting women and girls rights, brought the incident to light in a live Facebook post.

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According to Njemanze, the matter is that of discrimination, and care must be taken to ensure Nigerians are not discriminated againt on account of fighting Coronavirus.

“Is Casalinda hotel saying the woman has Coronavirus by marriage. The Nigerian govt is duty bound to prevent hotels and public service providers against discriminating people because of the virus especially when their only affiliation with the virus is by manner of where they come from and nothing else,” she said.

Since the record of Coronavirus case in Nigeria, several reports have shown a pattern of discrimination an manipulation by service providers as well as suppliers and retailers of certain products, such as hand sanitizer, latex gloves, and masks.

Just recently, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) released a statement on Twitter, warning retailers and suppliers against price gouging of the above mentioned products describing it as unconscionable trade practices.

The Commission stated that the full extent of the law will be meted out to suppliers and retailers who attempts to benefit from the anxiety, apprehension and vulnerability of consumers.

Author profile

Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

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