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Lawmakers commence process to repatriate illegal Chinese citizens in Nigeria 

NIGERIAN lawmakers on Tuesday commenced the process for the repatriation of Chinese citizens residing illegally in the country.

This is against the backdrop of reported cases of human rights abuses meted out at Nigerians in China, particularly in the Guangdong Province.

In a motion titled: “Maltreatment and Institutional Acts of Racial Discrimination against Nigerians Living in China by the Government of China,” sponsored by Benjamin Okezie and nine other lawmakers, they expressed concerns over the current status of about 10,000 Nigerian population living in the Guangdong territory.

Some of these Nigerian nationals, they identified include students, workers, investors, traders among others.

The ICIR had earlier reported on why Nigerians in China were being attacked and how the Chinese authorities in Guangdong, believed it had curtailed the spread of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), with claims that Nigerians, among other foreigners, allegedly brought new cases to the Chinese territory.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) also summoned Mr. Liu Yuxi, the Chinese Ambassador to the AU on the crisis, shortly after Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, met with Zhou Pingian, the Chinese Envoy in Nigeria.

Envoys under the aegis of African Group of Ambassadors also petitioned the AUC, United Nations, and the Chinese government for the inhumane accusations.

In view of these, the House members directed its Committee on Interior, Nigeria Content Development and Monitoring, and Commerce to probe the Nigerian Immigration, Corporate Affairs Commission, Nigerian Content and Development Monitoring Board, including other relevant Ministries, Department and Agency (MDAs) to verify Chinese citizens legally permitted to reside in the country while the undocumented ones re expatriated to their country.

In addition, the House Committees are expected to extend the verification exercise to check the right expatriate quota of Chinese businesses in the country, while those found guilty are deported to legalise their immigration status in Nigeria.

“Recall that sometimes on 8th April, 2020, photos and videos appeared on various social media outlets depicting institutionalized acts of racial discrimination, maltreatment, xenophobic assaults, embarrassments, illegal detentions, and forceful evictions of Nigerians and other Africans living in Guangzhou,” Okezie stated.

“Concerned that under the pretext of curbing the spread of COVID-l9, which ironically originated in Wuhan, China, several kinds of maltreatment of Nigerian citizens in Guangzhou have been perpetrated by Chinese people and authorities including wrongful confiscation of Nigerian International Passports, prolonged and illegal detention of Nigerians in the name of mandatory quarantine despite their having certificates of clean health and no recent travel history, outright refusal to release the test results, and the eviction of Nigerians from their homes and hotel accommodations, etc.”

The lawmaker particularly emphasised on flouting of Article 5 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, (1963).

According to him, the Chinese government ought to have contacted the Nigerian Consular on its policies as it might affect the Nigerian citizens but failed to do so, thus maltreating the Nigerian citizens in its territory.

“Worried that in the exercise of his function of protecting the interests of nationals of a Sending State as provided for under Article 5 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963, the Nigerian Consul General was treated in clear violation of Article 40 of the said treaty which requires the Receiving State to treat consular officers with due respect and to take all appropriate steps to prevent attacks on their persons, freedom or dignity.”

He concluded that the actions and inactions are breach of several other international conventions to which both nations are signatories.

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