Geoffrey Onyeama, Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, has described claims made in various viral videos of Nigerians being maltreated in China, as half truths.
Last week, videos of some Nigerians being kicked out of their hotels and forced into isolation for fear of being infected with the novel Coronavirus, surfaced online. One of the viral videos showed the Consul-General of Nigeria in Guangzhou, China, Mr Anozie Madaubuchi Cyril, confronting Chinese officers and accusing them of victimising Nigerians and other Africans.
At a press briefing held in Abuja with the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr Zhou Pingjian today April 14, the Minister said investigations carried out has shown that the narrative of discriminatory treatment against Africans residing in Guangzhou, a city in China, in the viral videos have turned out to be half truths.
The Minister said according to information made available to him by the African consulates and the Chinese authorities, some Africans had travelled via air to a city called Guangzhou a few weeks ago and when they were checked, they tested positive for COVID-19.
The Minister said one of the travelers who tested positive was a woman who ran a restaurant that sells mostly African cuisine. The minister said a firm decision by Chinese authorities to quarantine for 14 days those traced to the restaurant sparked resistance and negative report of victimisation.
”An African restaurant, a Nigerian restaurant frequented predominantly and almost exclusively by Africans and Nigerians and that the Chinese authorities obviously picked up on this that there was this group of people who had tested positive. And so, automatically demanded and insisted that they all be quarantined, with nobody allowed to come out in 14 days and if anybody came out from that quarantine, that they should not be allowed in if it was a hotel, back into that hotel or that residence.
So, they put in very strict measure to try to contain this outbreak which to them at that time, clearly seemed to have been within that community. And so, they put in place, this very, very strict measures. Now, it was misinterpreted by some of the Nigerians and Africans who could not understand why it seemed to be selective and targeting only themselves.” Onyeama said
The Minister said the video did not portray the true narrative of what transpired and noted that officials at the Nigerian Embassy and officials in Guangzhou at the consulate, particularly the acting consul-general offered him a detailed information.
“There was this lady who owned a restaurant, who was positive and the great fear that all the clients visiting that restaurant and maybe other restaurants might have been infected and might now be passing on that infection. So, after their experience in Wuhan, they were very determined to contain this in this way.
But what our officials in China made clear was that the communication could and should have been better if the authorities in Guangzhou had informed the consulates, the African consulates in Guangzhou, that this was the situation, this was the measures that they were putting in place and so for, it could have been a joint effort, a team effort and that mutual suspicion would not have been there. And of course, that was not done and that led to counter narratives and exacerbated the situation.” he said