... Laments over government's Insensitivity to Citizens' Welfare and Disrespect for Human Rights
By Uju Ogbu
The Civil Liberties Organisation, CLO,, has rejected the explanations given by the Federal Government for its inability to evacuate over 300 businessmen and women trapped in China following Covid- 19 lockdown.
The CLO quoted the Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Onyeama as saying that the government was making efforts to evacuate these over 2, 000 Nigerians back to the country but blamed inadequate facilities as being responsible for their inability to rescue these Nigerians.
The organisation said that Onyeama's explanations were not onl flawed, but convincing and, therefore, not acceptable to Njgrrisns and the CLO.
A statement signed by the Executive Director of the CLO, Comrade Ibuchukwu Ezike said,
"We recall that for over three weeks, CLO has been crying out to the government of Nigeria to rise to the occasion and assist Nigerians, especially over 300 businessmen and women who are locked down in Guangzhou, China, since the coronavirus pandemic started.
"Despite window display or dressing of writing an unworkable letter to Beijing and inviting the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria for discussions, no serious efforts had been made to evacuate these Nigerian citizens to their father land.
"CLO makes bold to disagree with the government as being untruthful in its argument because inefficiency and lack of care for their citizens in need are largely responsible for this crisis. "In the far, near past and present, CLO has had cases of Nigerians in dire need of their government's assistance but to who government usually turned deaf ears and remained disinterested in their matters not minding how genuine and urgent their matters were.
"This present case is another justification. Our argument in disbelieving the government in the present situation is premised on the following reasons:-
"The Chairman of the Presidential TaskForce on COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Aliyu, disclosed to Nigerians last week while announcing the possible extension of the lockdown by another two weeks that the government was not ready and serious in addressing the COVID-19 epidemic in Nigeria until that week.We totally agree with him.
"Rather than use the donations made to the government to confront the coronavirus pandemic in the country, the money was reportedly looted by greedy and insincere politicians in charge of the execution of the anti-COVID-19 project.
"No efforts have been made by the government to recover these money and/ or punish the thieves.
With the donations in the region of billions of Dollars, a serious government would have put up manageable structures that would accommodate these Nigerians pending when they are qualified to rejoin their families and not depend on private hotels and institutions.
"There are many government's uncompleted buildings languishing all over Lagos and Abuja, the chosen cities of entry for these returnee Nigerians. Government could have used part of the donated funds to complete them and use as isolation camps for these returning Nigerians.
"We know that Nigerians would have donated more money to enable the government complete those structures if the government was honest in the utilisation of the donated funds.
'’The trapped business Nigerians in Guangzhou are already in possession of their Ethiopian Airlines return tickets to Nigeria. All the government needed to do for them was to open the airspace and allow the airline an entry pass to Nigeria. They are not making requesting for government's sponsorship, and;
"All Nigerians in China, especially those on business trips in Guangzhou, are tested for coronavirus almost daily and have been certified negative. China has more trusted medical equipment than Nigeria. Therefore, the issue of testing them would not prove a problem as China has equipment to even test them at the airport of departure if requested by Nigeria.
CLO is absolutely not happy with the way Nigerian government feels unconcerned and has been lackadaisically going about these issues of grave human rights concerns relating to our citizens. This attitude of our government is legendary.
"In 2006, we lost an under aged, 17, old Nigerian in Singapore even when the Singaporean court absolved him of complexity in the act for which he was convicted but a 25 year old German who owned up to her crime was released to the German authorities on its intervention to plead for her citizen. The German did not only have her death sentence commuted but was allowed to go back to Germany to serve her prisons term.
I"n 2008, another Nigerian was burnt like an animal by the Gabonese police and repatriated to Nigeria. Till date, the Nigerian is still languishing in Ogun state where he is a "kabukabu" driver. Around the same period, a Nigerian living in Spain was arrested by the Police in Holland on their stopover, had his documents seized by the police and deported him to Nigeria. And in 2009, we got a report of a Nigerian in Germany whose former girl friend received his salaries from his work place without his knowledge and later hired assassins to kill him in his house.
"The police arrested the six assassins and the lady in question, and charged them to court. But the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, applied to the court that the lady had right to take the man's salary without his permission because he was an African.
"On the conviction of the seven suspects for attempted murder, the DPP said that their citizens could not be imprisoned because of a black man.
"And we can go and on to illustrate our reasons for holding that our government both in the past and present, have no regard for our citizens both at home and in Diaspora.
"The creation of the Commission on Nigerians in Diaspora is a deceit because there is no genuine plan to address the plights of our people in foreign land. It is rather part of the conduit pipes by the government to plunder Nigeria and not to offer credible services to our people in Diaspora despite billions of Dollars being raked in yearly from them.
In all these case, CLO wrote our government and its agencies and commissions, including the Presidency, National Assembly, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Human Rights Commission.
"Unfortunately, and very regrettably too, not one of them acknowledged our communications let alone addressing the grave issues raised in our letters.
"But the German and Gabonese authorities replied us and noted that we were an organisation and would amicably address the issues with our government when they raised them.
"Till today, they never did and our citizens have continued to suffer these abuses. We are convinced that until Nigerians rise to the occasion to begin to make legitimate demands on our elected politicians and begin to hold them accountable for their anti- people actions... nothing good can come out from them. "This is because they are not conscious or feel ashamed of their awkward and primitive behaviour nor do they feel that they owe any duties to the electorate.
"These are men and women who are proud to tell the world how many positions that they have held and not how they have used those positions to promote good governance, provide enduring social amenities and build strong institutions among others. Aluta Continua!"