Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, has ordered an investigation into the alleged maltreatment of workers by a Chinese firm, Inner Galaxy Group.
The Internet went agog on Wednesday when a private investigator with the handle, @Truthfully83, in a series of tweets accused the company of physical assault on the workers, sexual harassment and bad working conditions, among others.
The writer, who claimed to have secured a job in the company to experience the maltreatment of the workers, stated that the Nigerian employees were being sacked at will and threatened with soldiers and police.
He tweeted, “Just like a slave, and a slave master relationship. Every Nigerian in that company is mandated to call their Chinese employers MASTER or MISTRESS and failure to do that attracts a direct sack. Nigerians are violated and molested by their Chinese employers daily.
“Male Nigerian workers are physically assaulted, why their female counterparts are sexually assaulted without any consequence. Chinese MASTERS will use derogatory words on Nigerian employees, and you dare not talk back at them because the consequence is grievous. After the physical assaults you will get, you will still be sacked. Chinese MASTERS will boast of killing you and getting away with it.
“Nigerians are treated worst than second class citizens. The Chinese treat their Nigerian employees as lesser humans in their soil. For over three months and counting, Inner Galaxy Group has been holding workers on hostage because of covid19. They locked the gates, denying workers access to go home. If you dare complain, the @PoliceNG DPO of Obehie police station CSP Isiguzo will be called to arrest you.
“Workers are camped in a prison-like accommodation provided by the company before now. See where Nigerian workers of inner Galaxy group sleep, after 13 hours of tedious job daily. It is truly heartbreaking to see what fellow Nigerians are reduced to because of government insensitivity, and the high rate of unemployment. Chinese now feel they are doing us favour, by treating Nigerians as slaves in our own country, in the area of employment.”
A former worker of the company, whose leg was amputated as a result of an injury he suffered in the factory, said his co-workers could not save him for fear of being beaten by their Chinese boss.
The worker, Mr. Elahor, who spoke with newsmen, said he was not given adequate treatment when he was eventually taken to the company’s first aid centre.
He stated, “I started working as a welder at the company in February 2017 before I was moved to the production department. Sometime in March 2017 around 11.30pm, while I was working, my leg got stuck inside the production machine. I tried to pull it out, but the machine shredded my leg. I cried for help but my fellow workers didn’t want to come near me, because they were afraid that the masters would harm them. I continued screaming until some people, who were sent by the masters, came to pick me up.
“They took me to the so-called first aid centre, where I was not treated and I was in serious pain. I was later taken to hospital, but the doctor told me that my leg would be amputated; so, I begged to be taken to another hospital
“I was treated at the hospital and my bills were paid by the company till 2018, when it refused to pay my hospital bills again. I was told to stop using the hospital but move to their missionary hospital, but I didn’t like how I was treated at the missionary hospital; I just had to endure the treatment.
“When the company stopped paying my bills in 2018, I called but I was told to stop calling; so, I went to the company to beg but I was chased out, and when I continued begging, they sent two policemen to arrest me and the cops threatened to lock me up if I did not collect the N20,000 the company offered me.
“The company took away my ability to walk and has refused to compensate me. I’m suffering mentally and financially. The way the Chinese are treating Nigerians in our own country is unfair and unheard of. If you see where we were living, the building is huge and has terrible roofing. The rooms are poorly ventilated and furnished. Some of us even sleep on the floor. They beat the workers, yell at them, and insult them. They have no regards for Nigerians.”
When newsmen contacted the state Commissioner for Information, John Kalu, he confirmed that the governor sent a delegation to the factory to investigate the allegations.
Kalu said in a statement on Thursday that the governor had ordered a full-scale investigation into the operations of the company.
The statement read in part, “Following the review of the report of the fact-finding team sent to Inner Galaxy Steel Company today, Thursday, August 13, 2020, the Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, has directed the setting up of a full investigative committee to look into the operations of the company to ensure compliance with relevant local and international laws.
“The committee, which has two weeks to submit its report to the governor, will be inaugurated at 11am on Friday, August 14, 2020, by the Deputy Governor, Ude Oko Chukwu.”