The police have arrested a Chinese couple in Abuja for allegedly locking up their Nigerians employees in their apartment for the past four months.
Eight domestic workers were rescued by the personnel of the Utako Divisional Police Station on Tuesday following a tip-off by a resident, who reported the incident to the Human Rights radio station.
The police raided the residence of the Chinese in the Jabi area of Abuja and took the unidentified couple and their domestic employees to the station.
In footage provided by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, the victims said they had been locked up in the apartment since February.
A lady, who did not give her name, said the domestic workers were not allowed to move out of the building and that the couple refused to allow her to go for treatment when she took ill.
When I was seriously sick, I asked these people (Chinese employers) to open the gate for me, but they refused until I became very angry before they opened the door. I know my life may be at risk but I don’t mind, let the world know what is happening.
They told us that if someone was going out, he could help buy something for us, but when this man (referring to a colleague) went out to buy sachet water, they deducted his salary. What do they want us to do?
We had to stay in the room and talk to people through the windows. They didn’t give us food; apart from the salary, they didn’t give us anything; they even cut our salaries.”
The driver of the Chinese, who simply identified himself as Alex, said he and the seven others had been working against their will for the couple since the outbreak of COVID-19 in February.
They never allowed us to go out since February; if any of us went out and they know, a certain percentage of the person’s salary would be deducted.
Even on Monday when this man (pointing at one of his co-workers) sent someone to buy water, N500 was deducted from his salary that has yet to be paid.”
Another worker said the couple deducted N3,000 from his salary, because he went out to fill his pension form.
But the workers were refusing to cooperate with the police, adding that when they got to the station, they claimed that they were not forcefully detained by their employers.
We were surprised by the refusal of the Nigerians to narrate the details of their ordeal to the police. All of them claimed that they chose to stay with the Chinese couple without coercion, but that was not the information that prompted our visit to the apartment. From the look of things, there may be more to what they are telling us,” a police source said.
The spokesman, Federal Capital Territory Police Command, DSP Anjuguri Manzah, confirmed the incident, noting that investigation had commenced.
He said the Chinese couple had been released on bail.