Men of the Abuja police division have arrested a Chinese couple in Abuja for allegedly locking up their Nigerians employees in their apartment for the past four months.
The men from the Utako Divisional Police Station on Tuesday rescued eight domestic workers, 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.
The International Centre for Investigative Reporting in footage shows the victims saying they had been locked up in the apartment since February. A lady, who spoke without mentioning 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.
“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.”
Corroborating the lady, the driver of the Chinese, who 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 claimed that N3,000 was deducted from his salary because he went out to fill his pension form.
Workers deny claims
However, it was found out that the workers denied being forced to work and detained as soon as they got to the police.
“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 couples were later released on bail after an investigation commenced on the matter.