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« Osuji Lectures #3: Nigeria's Political Socialization | Main | Ozodi Osuji Lectures on Nigeria's Politics #4: Nigeria and Political Ideologies »

October 07, 2005

Nigerians Living in Fear in China

by Osita Chiagorom and Richard Offo (Changchun, China) --- I want to comment on the continous detention of Nigerians in China as a result of the prohibition of visa extention on the Nigeria passport. Most of the people detained are innocent Nigerians. Their crime is that they have expired visas because their visas could not be extended like those of other foreigners in China.

As a result of this issue, most Nigerians are intimidated and are living in fear. A lot of people have used this opportunity to oppress and dupe Nigerians because they know that we cannot report to the police.

There are many cases where employers refused to pay us our salaries because they know that we cannot report to the authorities. They tell us to do our worst. Reporting to the police means detention and deportation.

Even, some of our business partners are not left out. On the 15th of September, a Nigerian, Mr. Innocent Nwosu was detained and will soon be deported.

His crime was that he opened a saloon with a Chinese lady a day before this incident. He was arrested because his Visa expired. The incident took place in the City of Changchun, Jilin province, northeast of China.

His Chinese partner is still at large and this is very suspicious because the woman assured him of her protection. We suspect that the woman set him up so that she can take over the business.

For over a week, a local Chinese newspaper reported this incident on the front page almost on a daily basis, creating an unpleasant atmosphere for Nigerians here.

Nigerians in China are neither criminals, drug pushers nor dupes. They are just hard working Nigerians who are unfortunate victims of visa prohibition of the Chinese government on Nigerians.

It is known that the problem facing Nigerians in China today is because of visa prohibition on persons with Nigerian passports. A lot of rumours have circulated on this issue. It is very unfortunate that the Nigerian embassy is yet to clarify why our visas are not extended.

Last year,we were at the Nigerian embassy and discussed with the Consular officer, Mr.Usman. He did not give us a good or specific clarification. He just told us that the Chinese Government has denied that there is a visa prohibition on Nigerians.

He said that the visa prohibition allegation is not official. Well, every person knows that there is a visa restriction on the Nigerian passport. The Chinese know and other foreigners know too. This is very shameful and disgraceful.

One of the rumours has it that it is because we recognised Taiwan. But one wonders why Taiwan's main ally, the USA is not given the same treatment.

Also, there is a rumour that it is because of the crimes committed by some Nigerians here but it is clear that this is not so because Nigerians are not the only ones committing crimes in China. Most sophiscated crimes here are commited by citizens of western and middle east countries.

There is a rumour which seems to be true. We got an information since september 2003, that was 2 years ago, that soon there will be a visa restriction on Nigerians and nationals of five other countries in China.

The other countries as said to be Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The rumour has it that these countries together with Nigeria are classified as TERRORIST countries by the government in China. To us, this is the only "rumour" that so far sounds real. nitialy, we did not take it serious but by beginning of 2004, our visas became very difficult to extend.

Today, it is worst because almost 9 out of every 10 Nigerian in China has an expired visa !!!. One wonders why Nigeria should be among the list of "terrorist" countries.

Today, many Nigerians in China are scared to death of being recognised as being from "NIRILIYAA" [Nigeria]. Many prefer to claim other nationalities like the USA, South Africa, Jamaica, Ghana, Cuba, Bahamas, etc.

Last week, a Nigerian in Beijing suprisingly warned me seriously to stop addressing him as a Nigerian. When we came here 3 years ago, we were very proud of our nationality. But today, we take deep breath before we introduce ourselves as Nigerians.

The other major problem which has hindered our progress here is the so called people that represent us here - the so-called "Nigerian Embassy."

As far as we are concerned, we don't have an embassy here. If the embassy had taken adequate actions, we would not have been blacklisted. They have avoided confronting the Chinese government on this issue.

The recent suprising arrest, illegal detention, and deportation of Mr Okechukwu Uche the leader of the Nigerian community in Guangzhou finally confirmed our long term distrust on the Nigerian Embassy.

Mr Uche suffered for something that the Embassy was supposed to handle. He was deported after 3 months of illegal detention because he challenged the authorities about their discriminatory attitudes towards Nigerians.

This is Mr. Uche's story:

It started in August when I was elected as the Nigerian community leader in China. We discovered that the authorities of Guangzhou, a Chinese city, had increased the fee for renewal of the resident permit, which did not apply to other countries.

I pointed out the ill-treatment to them, explaining that Nigerian government had been trying to build a good relationship with the Chinese government. We contacted the Nigerian Embassy in China and lodged the complaint. The embassy assured us that they would intervene in the issue. We explained our situation to him. Four of the immigration officials threatened me that they would reduce my resident permit, which is usually one year. They told me that they did not give me visa to do Nigerian community job. And true to their promise, they reduced my visa from one year to one month. The Nigerian Embassy intervened, but the Chinese authorities did not reply the embassy.

After that month, they came to arrest me, stating that my visa had expired. They put me into detention and for the past three months, I was there. They only allowed me to make five minutes call to my wife to tell her to get ready that they are deporting me with my family

Well, we can see that from Mr Uche"s ordeal that this has become very serious. It is because we "have no embassy" so Mr Uche took it upon himself to fight for his people and suffered dearly for it.

We are aware that China is presently being awarded contracts that runs into billions of dollars in Nigeria, like the comunication, oil, and satelite contracts.

There are thousands of Chinese living and doing business in Nigeria. They are not facing discrimination. The number of Chinese in Nigeria surpasses the number of Nigerians in China by almost ratio of 10 to 1.

If they are gaining so much in Nigeria why can"t they respect us in their country and extend our visas.

Today, many innocent Nigerians are being detained and are wasting away because of expired visas, and hundreds of others are in danger of being detained. China is a very good country and the people are nice. We believe that our visa problem is something that our embassy did not handle very well like other countries who have good diplomatic relationships with China.

It is not late. I believe that this issue can be resolved diplomatically if our representatives really know how to do their job.




Posted by Administrator at October 7, 2005 02:43 PM


It too appelling going through all this.Then what's the essence of our Diplomacy with Chinese Authourity.They know what they're doing; they're intentionally exploiting us-both in our human and natural resources in their so-called communism concept.I suggest the matter be taken to our various/Natioal Assembly since the appointed Ambassadors who are supposed to be the mouth of the people are in China to work for MONEY alone.

Posted by: Ben at October 11, 2005 10:18 AM

most Nigeria Embassy should try and be help full becouse most of them dont do there work all they do is plan how to make money by all means not thinking of the the work they are ask to do. some of the embassy workers if they see you doing well they will even hate you

Posted by: castro at October 12, 2005 09:38 AM

Well, this is a country where i happened to be born.I swear that i'm weeping as i'm typing this comment, dont we have govenment in nigeria? when will this selfishness on the part of THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT end? is it curse that nigeria should always have the government that is unconcerned about its citizens?I was a victim of this persecution when all nigerians were ordered out of a province, inner mongolia, China, OCT.1ST. 2004.The punishment meted on NIGERIANS in china are just too much.The worst is that Usman, the secretary to the ambassador told us that bcos we didnt report at the embassy when we arrived china, the embassy cant do anything to help and besides ,it is not Nigerian embassy that sends us to China, so we cant get help.This is shameful to our ambassador.Many chinese are moving freely in Nigeria, the chinese government and people are milking our economy but bcos the people at the top are settled, they dont care about ordinary nigerians. No nigerian dares call himself a nigerian in China. Why all these? is nigerian government deaf? Well, whether we all believe or not,Nigerian government has no regard for its citizens abroad, we are powerless but God , the nemesis of the untouchables will surely catch up with this uncaring government. I must also bring to ur notice that THOSE VICTIMS of chinese government brutality are now preparing to start attacking chinese in NIGERIA. since Nigerians are not wanted in China, they are not wanted in nigeria as well. we all know that our government is in support of this brutality.thanks

Posted by: Merry at November 11, 2005 12:35 PM

Uche, Sorry the plight you face is the life story of a sojourner in a foreign land, If Nigeria is better, why not go back to Nigeria. The alternative is to use Biafran passport, afterall whatever happened to seeking assylum on the grounds of political persecution of Ibos in Nigeria. Use your number six, as we would say in Biafra and stop being a cry baby.

Ngorom Peterside

Posted by: Ngorom Peterside at November 12, 2005 10:59 PM

I will say that all these mistreatments being meted to Nigerians not only in China but all over the world, especially, in Asian countries should be address once and for all. Infact, Nigerian Government is supporting them to brutalise Nigerians here in China, precisely, the Igbos. It is high time we start suicide bombing, targeting the Nigerian embassies, so that it will serve as a deterrant to the Nigerian Government.

Posted by: Chris Uzor at November 24, 2005 09:31 AM

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