Nigeria has joined the long list of countries-mostly African and Caribbean-where slave labor in the name of prisoners are used as expatriate workers in construction companies. This has been reported as Chinese labor policy to get cheap unpaid labor for their construction firms.
A house of Representatives member representing Gumel, Gagarawa, Maigatari, and Sule Tankarkar constituency in Jigawa state, Sanni Zorro, who doubles as chairman House committee on internally displaced persons has recently raised the alarm in a press briefing at his home in Kano.
According to him, Lee Gee company, a Chinese firm, is known to be importing prisoners to work in its textile firms with imported prisoners without proper documentations. These prisoners work at their Kano plastic factories.
Nigerian textile firms are begging for life support, and are being choked to death by government policies.
“My concern about the inversion of farmlands in my constituency by the Source was informed that the Chinese company was basically due to continued non nonchalant attitude of Northern Governments to take prompt action. About 20,000 hectares of land was unlawfully acquired without compensation”, he said.
In recent times, China has become emboldened by government and immigration non nonchalance to treat Nigeria as a conquered territory. News has been awash of exclusive restaurants in Lagos where only Chinese are allowed, reminiscent of the Apartheid era in south Africa. Tet according to an anonymous immigration officer, dealing with them is complicated because of connections to “the powers that be”.
Fears are that China is taking advantage of the current government addiction with loans to foist Neo-colonialsm on Nigeria.
Besides, there are allegations of prostitution rings in Lagos and even Abuja, where it was alleged that female prisoners are being used as prostitutes. “Their handlers go with police escorts. You can see them at Emina Crescent, off Toyin street at Ikeja, for example”, a source told this magazine.
This magazine can confirm that Immigration once raided Emina Crescent and made some arrests, but after some time, it became business as usual again. Chinese girls now compete with the local girls in night clubs and in Allen and Opebi areas of Lagos.
Allegations of China using prisoners as cheap labor in countries overseas is not new. It is known that other African countries suffer the same treatment. The German paper, Der Spiegel, once reported, based on the claim of the German opposition party, that 80,000 former prisoners from China were working in Zambia. An interview with immigration consultant by a consulting firm claims that an immigration consultant was able to process thousands of papers for Chinese prisoners. In Nigeria, it is alleged that they collude with corrupt officials to get their way.