•China General Chamber of Commerce, manager refute discrimination allegations


From Fred Ezeh and Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja

Operatives of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) have summoned Cindy Liu Bei, operator of a Chinese supermarket in Abuja, over alleged racial practices against Nigerians.

The summon was, perhaps, an opportunity for the operator of the Chinese supermarket to answer some questions regarding alleged racial practices against Nigerians and other blacks in Nigeria.

There was public outcry, at the weekend, when a social media video went viral, alleging that Nigerians and other blacks were not allowed access into the supermarket located at the China Chambers of Commerce in Nigeria building located on Airport Road in Abuja.

FCCPC Director of Surveillance and Investigations, Boladale Adeyinka, who led the enforcement, yesterday, said such a practice was totally unacceptable to the government, hence the decision to visit the location to ascertain the truth and take appropriate actions (sanctions) if necessary.

She said: “We came to verify the authenticity of the content of the video that surfaced online at the weekend. On arrival, we realised that people had been evacuated and the premises of the supermarket padlocked from outside. Our inquiries showed that as at this morning (yesterday), the supermarket was open to customers.

“CCTV footage also confirmed that at 8:29am, two vehicles, a black Lexus SUV and white bus, departed the premises allegedly carrying the operator and, maybe her staff. As we could not meet them, we have summoned them, formally, to appear before an investigative hearing tomorrow.”

She said the summon which was posted at the gate of the supermarket located at Villa D7, Royal Choice Estate, inside China Chamber of Commerce in Nigeria, Abuja, asked the operator to attend the investigative hearing tomorrow.

The commission, however, said failure of the operator to appear before the investigative hearing is an offence under Section 33(3) of the FCCPC Act, and subject to penalty up to N20 million or a term of imprisonment up to three years or both penalties or imprisonment.

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FCCPC insisted the operator must appear in person, and must also come along with some documents, including her Corporate Affairs Commission Status Report showing details of the directors.

The China General Chamber of Commerce, has refuted allegations of discrimination.

In a statement, the China General Chamber of Commerce said the supermarket manager asserted that no individual was subjected to discrimination or denied access to the estate or supermarket to purchase groceries.

The China General Chamber of Commerce also said the altercation at the estate’s entrance gate between the security personnel and a customer was regrettable and does not in any way reflect the official position of the estate management.

“The China General Chamber of Commerce is an organisation that believes in equality and inclusiveness. Our principles are to enhance friendship between the people of both countries and promote economic development.

“Seeing is believing. We welcome first-hand visits to witness the truth. We hope that Punch can remove the article about discrimination in Chinese shops and provide clarification on this matter,” the China General Chamber of Commerce also said.

In his reaction, the shop manager, Liu Bei, said

“My shop is in the Royal Choice estate, Airport Road, Abuja. It’s a small retail shop, not supermarket like SHOPRITE. I mainly  sell things to community residents and people who work here. Sometimes, some visitors will come to my store to buy something after visiting the company in the office building, regardless of nationality.

“Since December 2023, I downsized the operations of my shop and has been planning to close.”

“I don’t discriminate against any Nigerians, I even have several local employees in my store and we have a goad relationship. However, for safety reasons, the community has requirements for visitors, so not everyone can enter the community directly.

“I feel sorry for the altercation between the security guard and the visitor in the video. Two Nigerians did come to my store that day to buy something, and I sold to them.”