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EXCLUSIVE: Chinese Operator Risks Sanctions As Federal Government Shuts Abuja Supermarket For Barring Nigerians

todayApril 23, 2024 31

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By Toffa Momoh, Abuja

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, FCCPC, has put an Abuja-based Chinese supermarket under lock and key for barring Nigerians and restricting entry to Chinese nationals.

The commission, which on Monday summoned the owner of the supermarket along Airport Road, to appear before it on Wednesday, said it would deploy “regulatory tools” against the management.

The commission gave the directive on Monday following discreet investigations and enquiries from complaints by Nigerians alleging discriminatory practices.

If found wanting, the operator of the supermarket risks sanctions, according to officials.

It was reported on Sunday that the supermarket had implemented a controversial policy restricting entry solely to Chinese nationals, excluding Nigerians from patronising the establishment.

This policy sparked widespread condemnation across various social media platforms as Nigerians voiced their concerns over the discriminatory treatment.

However, when Eagles FM News visited the premises late Monday, the commission officials led by the Director for Surveillance and Investigation, Boladale Adeyinka, said the mission of the commission was in response to the viral video when Nigerians were allegedly being discriminated against and denied access to a supermarket located in Abuja.

Adeyinka, at the end of the enforcement, stated that the owner of the supermarket, a Chinese lady, Cindy Liu Bei, fled on Monday at 8:26 am with her family as confirmed on the Closed-Circuit Television camera.

She said, “The essence of the surveillance and investigation that we conducted today is to verify the allegations and the content of that viral video.

“On arrival, we noticed that the supermarket which is right behind me, was sealed and padlocked externally. Inquiries have shown that yes, as this morning this supermarket was open and people were here.

CCTV footage

“CCTV footage also shows that in the morning, two vehicles departed from these very premises allegedly containing the owner of the supermarket, whom we have been able to identify by name and we have her contact details.”

She further directed that the owner appear before the commission tribunal or the compound would remain sealed.

One of the attendants, who spoke the Yoruba language, expressed shock that a Nigerian was allowed to gain entry, noting that “Maybe they were allowed because you didn’t come with a car.”

She also stated that authorities stopped Nigerians from entering for reasons not known to them.

She noted, “Yes, Nigerians are not allowed to enter the supermarket. Only people who work on the premises are allowed to shop here. There are reasons but we don’t know because it was not like this before. I don’t know how they allowed you in, maybe because you didn’t come with a car. They would never allow anyone who comes with a car to enter the premises.

But at the gate on Monday, our correspondent met another set of security personnel who granted access without any questions.

The guard who did have a name tag said, “You want to go to the supermarket? You can go,” without asking further questions.

For over an hour, nobody entered or exited the compound while our correspondent waited outside. Later in the day, another correspondent who visited the same location corroborated this observation.

Our correspondent, Toffa Momoh, also observed heavy security presence by officials from the Department of State Security who came to investigate the incident.

CGCC reacts

Responding to the claims, the China General Chamber Of Commerce, which is in the Royal Choice Estate like the supermarket, denied assertions that

Response to Allegations of Discrimination at Chinese Supermarket” on Monday in Abuja.

The chamber explained that the residential area of the estate consists of privately occupied residences and access for external visitors must adhere to security protocols for safety reasons.

It however regretted that any Nigerian was subjected to discrimination or denied access to the estate or supermarket to purchase groceries.

The CGCC stated this in a statement signed by the management and titled, “REJOINDER: actions altercation at the estate’s entrance gate between the security personnel and a customer adding that the incident did not in any way reflect the official position of the estate management.

The statement read in full, “The China General Chamber of Commerce and the supermarket are completely unrelated entities. The residential area of the estate consists of privately occupied residences. Access for external visitors must adhere to security protocols for safety reasons. The supermarket manager asserts that no individual was subjected to discrimination or denied access to the estate or supermarket to purchase groceries.”

On why our correspondent was allowed unrestricted access on Monday, the assistant manager said a new directive has been given to allow unrestricted access to the building.

“It was when I came in and heard the situation that I gave instructions that nobody should be stopped henceforth. I was the one who gave the new order. This is a very serious issue. The DSS officials even said if they don’t come back in the next three days, they would have to start looking for them.”

The assistant manager denied that the management aided the tenants in escaping scrutiny and investigations.

“We didn’t issue any directive to shut down, I came to the office this morning by 8 am and when I passed through that place, I saw that the gate of the villa was locked from outside. We made attempts to call her on the phone to know her whereabouts due to the controversy but we have not been able to reach her, the network was bad. We didn’t ask her to shut down.”

Also, an official at the Media Department at The China General Chamber of Commerce, Micheal Ojenwu, said the CGCC would never discriminate against anyone let alone a Nigerian.

Responding, a Chinese official from the Embassy in the Federal Capital Territory, who has spent three years in Nigeria and chose to remain anonymous, acknowledged the complexity of the situation.

He stressed that the behaviour was not indicative of all Chinese nationals, highlighting the importance of addressing each country’s unique challenges with understanding and fairness.

Written by: EaglesFM

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