By Nwangwu Uba
The last may not have been heard over the allegations made by Sani Zaro, a member of House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, representing Gumel, Gagaraw , Maigateri and Sule Abubakar, Federal Constituency, Jigawa state, that Chinese prisoners were imported to work in Chinese companies operating in Nigeria as expatriate workers amidst teeming unemployment in Nigeria.
The House member’s accusation was an indictment on Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, Border Patrol and Airport officials , across the country used for International flights in the north and south west. They are Murtala Mihammed International Airport, Ikeja, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Kano International Airport among others.
He noted that the Chinese Prisoners , turned expatriate workers have also taken-over the most of the arable farm lands in the north, citing his Constituency in Jigawa state, where Chinese Companies and their imported expatriate prisoner workers have taken over their farm land with the alleged approval of the state governor.
According to him, about 20,000 hectares of land were unlawfully acquired by the Chinese farmers without compensation to the owners. He lamented that the story is the same in other northern states where the governors were also Collaborators.
The case of Chinese Civil Engineering and Construction , CCEC, building a road in an undisclosed African country speaks volume. There are insinuations that every year , thousands of these Chinese prison expatriate workers are sent to Africa and other third world countries to work in Chinese construction Companies in these African countries to build roads and work on other Construction projects to reduce cost of labour.
The question on the lips of most people was : how were these prisoners conveyed into the country with the tight security mounted at the Airports, seaports and land Border Areas by the security Agencies , particular, the Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, and NIS , personnel?. But Zoro had made Nigerians to believe that the Immigration officials were Collaborators in the matter.
James Sunday, a Deputy Comptroller of Immigration reportedly said the claims remained an ”unfounded allegation”. He insists that the statutory reponsibility of the NIS, on the movement of of immigrants into the country had never been compromised. The House member allegation may have thrown a big challenge to Abdulrahman Dambazau, a retired . Lt. General and former Chief of Army Staff and minister of Interior to get the root of the matter.
. Dambazau was said to have given a matching order to Mohammad Babadende, Comptroller General, NIS, to
Many believe that if the allegations were found to be true, there is no way the Chinese government officials would not have been in the picture of the arrangement as part of efforts to decongest their prisons and therefore the need for President Muhammadu Buhari to take up the matter with Li Keqiang, the country’s Premier to resolve matter. Until then, the Nigeria government must find a way of deporting the alleged Chinese Prisoner expatriate workers back to the country and the companies found quilt of the act must also be sanctioned as a deterent to others.
More importantly. the government should ban without further delay the use of prison labour before giving the green light to any Chinese investor coming into the country to establish a textile, plastic industry or . engage in Construction and Civil Engineering works. . News making the round was that even the CCECC, $8.3 billion Lagos -Kano railway modernization contract was being executed by the Company with the use of prison labour.
The Chinese government may have deceived the Nigerian government not to think along that line that prison labour fro the country would be used for the execution of the project because of the assurance of giving the country $9 billion aid to finance the project, as they have factored in the cost of taking the care of the prison expatriate workers throughout the duration of the contract, an indication that the maintenance of the Chinese expatriate workers was at no cost to the Nigerian government.
Investigation by The Value News shows that that there was no aid that had been offered to the country since the Chinese company was given the contract for execution of the project rather a preferential export credit of $500 million was extended to the country
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