Spokesperson of the House of Reps and member representing Bende Federal Constituency has reacted to the decision of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to set up a 9-man Investigative Committee to look into the operations of Inner Galaxy Steel Company in Ukwa West Local Government Area of Abia State, with a view to ascertain their level of compliance with relevant local and international laws.
Recall that on 12th of August 2020, a shocking article on the maltreatment of Nigerian employees by a Chinese company (Inner Galaxy Group) started trending on both print and social media platforms in Nigeria. The article alleged that over 1000 Nigerian workers in the Chinese company were subjected to several instances of human, labour and sexual abuse, stating the relationship between the Chinese employers and Nigerian employees was akin to that of a master-slave relationship.
Responding to the shocking article, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu (the Executive Governor of Abia State) set up a 9-man Investigative Committee to look into the operations of the company. He inaugurated the 9-man committee at the Government House Umuahia, noting that he was moved to set up the committee following reports in the print and social media of exploitation of workers and evasion of taxes accrued to Government by the Chinese owned Inner Galaxy Company, located in Ukwa West Local Government Area. The governor had also charged the committee to go into the company and find out if issues raised against them about abuse and infringement on the rights of Abians and Nigerian workers through exploitation, casualisation of workers, physical assault, sexual abuse of female workers, working more than the usual working hours, unconducive working environment and evasion of taxes were true.
When a DrumAfrica News correspondent quizzed Representative Benjamin Kalu for his thoughts on the issue, he said:
“The Executive Governor has acted expeditiously by inaugurating an investigative committee to immediately engage in a fact-finding mission with recommendations soon. This to me is the exhibition of true leadership. I am hoping that the committee will meet the expectations of the public who are watching closely to see that justice is done to those infringing the laws of our land.”
“Granted that the state is in need of reducing the unemployment level among the youths but we cannot destroy our youths in search of employment.”
“What ever happened to the dignity of labour? Why has our Labour Act and what it preaches been jettisoned by foreign businesses in Nigeria? “
“The principles of international labour organisation has been trashed by this kind of employer-employee relationship.“
“This must be frowned at and dealt with to preserve the work force of Abia State.”
“While the federal parliament is currently dealing with issues of this nature through a joint committee based on the motion I moved on the need to investigate the business activities of the Chinese in Nigeria.”
“It is painful that these suspected ugly activities are expanding without good monitoring to check these alleged excesses.”
Responding on behalf of other members of the new committee, the Chairman and Commissioner for Industry, Chief (Mrs) Uwaoma Olewengwa, also applauded the Governor for his rapid response to the issue which shows a high level of responsibility, and assured the Abia State Government that they will work assiduously to deliver accordingly and timely in the interest of all concerned.