• Man deported from China smuggles notes from Dong-guan prison
• Stay off drugs, Nigerians in China advised
By Tope Templer Olaiya, Metro Editor
THREE days after Chijioke Obioha, a 38-year-old Nigerian, was executed in Singapore for drug trafficking, The Guardian has received a prison note smuggled out of Dong-guan prison in China by a source, which describe graphic details of the plights of over 2,000 Nigerians languishing in the Chinese prison.
Obioha was hanged in Changi Prison early on Friday morning alongside a Malaysian national who was convicted on separate drugs offenses. He was arrested in April 2007 after being found in possession of more than 2.6 kilograms of cannabis. The quantity surpassed the 500 grams threshold that triggers the automatic presumption of trafficking under Singaporean law.
At the weekend, a fresh deportee from China, who had a brief stint in the Dong-guan prison and managed to hide dozens of prison notes scribbled on tissue papers in his anus, said the prison facility alone where he was held for over three months had more than 2,000 Nigerians detained for various reasons, mostly drug-related.
According to him, many Nigerians have been incapacitated owning to the daily torture meted out to them by prison officials, while a lot more are on death row waiting for the hangman.
“One of the most commonly form of torture is the shocking treatment where inmates are given continuous shocking from an electric device for up to two hours. When going through this procedure, most of us urinate and defecate on our pants. Some people, who have spent some time there have developed brain damage or some form of mental problems,” he said.
Excerpts of the letter read: “Dear fellow citizens of Nigeria, this is the voice of your compatriots suffering in Chinese prison. We have been looking for an opportunity to make our plights known to the public, but God is so kind, one of us is being released now. This is why we are using him as our contact to the outside world.
“Many of us have a very heavy sentence of death and life imprisonment and some of us have spent over 15 years in prison. We want our home government to come to our aid. We are being treated like animals, mostly Nigerians and other Africans.
“We are tortured daily with electric device. The worst part is that it is our fellow prisoners officials use to carry out this torture. When we ask why they do this to us, they say it is because we are blacks, our government don’t care for us and our government can’t do anything to them.
“The only reason many of us have not committed suicide is the hope of being transferred some day to our home country. Some countries like Ethopia, Senegal, Iran, Jordan, Colombia and Yemen have started taking their citizens back home and we believe the Nigerian embassy is fully aware of our plights but have refused to take any action.
“We are made to work long hours in factory every day without any salary being paid to us. Yet, we are not well fed. The only thing left for them to do is to exterminate us or put us in the gas chamber just as the Nazis did to the Jewish people.”
An online report on Dong-guan’s prison system in 2013 claimed that of the 5,000 inmates in the jail on Xinzhou Island in Dong-guan’s Shijie Village, there are about 1,500 foreign nationals from 53 countries. Most of them are there for drug-related crimes.
Also, according to another news report on the Dong-guan prison, electrocution, beatings and suicide are part of everyday life.
Danny Cancian, a New Zealand national, was released from the jail last year, and was quoted in an article as saying for the four years he spent locked up in Dong-guan, a stint during which he didn’t see the sun or the stars, “there were people hanging themselves every week. They had to take all the wire clothes lines out of the cells,” he said.
Based on his account, six days of every week, prisoners would be marched at 5am to a factory next door to the prison — after a breakfast of rice water — where they would work until eight in the evening.
THE President of Good Governance Initiative (GGI), a non-governmental organisation and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Blue Diamond Logistics, based in China, Mr. Festus Mbisiogu, has raised the alarm over Nigerians languishing in Chinese prisons for alleged drug trafficking, warning them to stay off drugs.
He said Nigerian businessmen in China contributes to over 70 per cent of China’s growing economy and were doing well, regretting that only a few had marred this laudable effort through drug trafficking and other social vices.
While reminding them that death by hanging is the penalty for drug-related offences in China, he urged Nigerians doing business there to say no to illicit drug trafficking and desist from crimes that could dent the image of Nigeria abroad.
Mbisiogu, who was the keynote speaker at the forum, which sought to rebuild the image of Nigeria abroad, noted that though both countries have had a very strong trade relationship over the years, Nigerians in China were still placed under heavy diplomatic restrictions owing to crimes and illicit drug trafficking.
“In Guangdong Province alone, Nigerians contribute to over 80 per cent of SME development that has revolutionised the means of doing business between Africans in China and Chinese entrepreneurs.
“In the city of Guangzhou alone, a predominantly Nigerian business area, daily business transactions have been recorded to exceed a cash return of $5 million.
“Yet, Nigerians continue to suffer one of the worst forms of stereotype between Chinese citizens and its foreign visitors, virtually in every aspect of economic and social lives. Today, because of the involvement of some Nigerians in illicit drug trafficking in China, we are not truly enjoying the benefits of our trade relationship with them. Instead, we are being profiled on a daily basis and denied some privileges, which ordinarily should have come to us as people contributing significantly to the growth of their economy.”
Mbisiogu, therefore, called on Nigerians in China to work hard to protect the image of the country abroad.
He said: “In Guangdong Province, Nigerians are no longer giving residents’ permit. There is also no visa extension. Nigerians, who are married and residing in China are not given residents’ permit. That is why many of us do not have our families here with us. Our citizens, who come here to study are not allowed to work unlike the citizens of other countries.”