EXPOSED: Indian-owned Lagos School Bars Nigerians from Enrollment

Gbenga Oloniniran discusses prejudice against Nigerians at foreign firms, where they face restrictions despite being in Nigeria.

Nigerians voiced fury on Sunday over a discriminatory policy established by an Abuja-based Chinese store that limited entrance to its citizens while barring Nigerians.

Our correspondent, who visited the mall housed within the China General Chamber of Commerce in Abuja, stated that admission to the supermarket, which had no name indication, was limited to people of Chinese heritage.

An X user, @DejiAdesogan, had also written, “So there’s a Chinese supermarket in Abuja that Nigerians cannot enter, let alone buy anything, that only Chinese are allowed? So weird to believe.”

Following the PUNCH story, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission closed the supermarket.

Visiting the premises on Monday, the commission’s staff, led by the Director for Surveillance and Investigation, Boladale Adeyinka, stated that the commission’s visit was in response to the viral video in which Nigerians were reportedly discriminated against and denied admission to the store.

The proprietor of the supermarket has also been summoned. Workers at the store revealed that the supermarket’s owner had fled the premises.

Adeyinka said, “There are other regulatory tools to be deployed, if she (the owner) fails to attend to this summons. The summons means that on entering into these premises, they must see the summons because that is how they gain access to it.”

But the Abuja supermarket is not the only business barring or discriminating against Nigerians.

Discriminations were also reported in Lagos. While reacting to the post by @DejiAdesogan on Sunday, an X user @decommonroom wrote “The Indian school in Ilupeju only admits Indians. You need an Indian passport for enrollment.”

In a further chat with The PUNCH, he said, “My experience with the Indian international school in Ilupeju dates back to when my school had a debate competition with them in 2009. I discovered there were only Indian students. I was curious as to why because my school was also an international school and run by a foreign embassy with primarily expatriate kids and few Nigerians. Then I was informed their passport was a prerequisite for admission.”

To investigate the claim, our journalist visited the Indian Language School Ilupeju in Lagos.

Our correspondent, who visited the school on Monday, adds that several Indians and their children were seen entering and exiting the brown facility near Rite Price Supermarket on Akinteye Drive in Ilupeju.

Many Indians live on the street and have been observed freely purchasing products from various Nigerian-owned shops, malls, and booths.

The building’s plots extend to the back, with Indian schoolchildren heard playing and conducting school activities in the enclosure.

Taking a trip down the bend behind the school property, our correspondent noticed another storey building with the inscription ‘Indian Language School,’ with some construction workers working in front. It was unclear whether it was a new building or not.

Returning to the main building and approaching the entrance, it was noticed that there were three guards at the security post, one in a uniform and another, most likely a septuagenarian, dressed in native clothes. They were Nigerian security men based on their appearance and conversation.

Our correspondent requested that we conduct inquiries for his uncle, who has two children and wishes to enroll them in the school.

“But that your uncle is an Indian man?” One of the security men responded. Our correspondent answered in the positive to allow for more debate, citing claims that Nigerians were prevented from entering similar international enterprises. However, even with the varied approach, the results were consistent.

The uniformed security officer promptly seized our correspondent’s information and took it to an office, while our correspondent was instructed to remain at the security station.

While our journalist sat, Indian nationals were observed entering and exiting.

Upon returning after about four minutes, the security man said, “They said the person should come – the person that is Indian – should come with his two kids.”

“They said as a Nigerian, they (the management) cannot attend to you. So the person should come, the Indian person,” he added, noting that was the response of an unidentified administrative worker, said to be an Indian.

When our correspondent asked to meet the said receptionist or admin manager, the security man said, “The woman will not attend to you because that’s the message she asked me to pass across to you.”

When our correspondent informed them that his Indian relative had not arrived in Nigeria, they still refused him entrance.

Asking why he was refused entry, another man at the security post told our correspondent, “You know if they (the owners) were people of our skin colour (Nigerians) now (things could be different), but these people, they are the ones that know what they saw that made them do things like that.”

Insisting the admin manager would not attend to our correspondent, the first security man added, “They are Indians. The admin is an Indian.”

When asked if our correspondent could come with his Indian uncle when coming to enroll his children, they responded in the affirmative, echoing “No problem.” “That one is sure,” another one said.

When asked if Nigerians could attend school there, one of them replied that it was only feasible if the child was born to an Indian national.

When our correspondent inquired, a worker in a supermarket next the school who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of censure verified that the school was primarily for Indian students. “Yes it is,” she said, nodding her head.

Another resident, Kazeem Ajagbe, who sat at a shop on the street where he earlier gave our correspondent directions, simply shrugged when told it was learnt the school was mainly for Indians.

A keke driver, Tolu Fafunwa, when asked about why Nigerians were not allowed in the school, said, “That’s what I heard too. If you’re a Nigerian, except you’re working there or have an appointment, you cannot enter. So we cannot even know if there is a shady thing going on inside there.”

According to information on the school’s website, the institution was founded in 1982 as a private school under The High Commission of India. “The school is affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education, New Delhi and has classes from BALVATIKA1 to XII.”

Our reporter texted, called the phone number shown on the school’s website, and wrote an email, but received no answer.

When approached, Vipul Mesariya, spokesperson for the Indian High Commission in Nigeria, requested that our correspondent email him. He had yet to answer as of the time this article was filed.

Meanwhile, a commission source, who chose anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, stated that the Indian school was founded in response to specific conditions in Nigeria.

“One of the conditions is that it will not enroll locals in the school. It is not their fault,” he said.

Our correspondent was also denied entry to the Kindea Chinese Hotel in Maitama, Abuja, due to the hotel’s policy of only allowing Chinese nationals to utilize the hotel’s services.

A staff member stated that the restriction was implemented in November after several Nigerian guests refused to pay their fees and vandalized certain buildings.

However, Anita Ejeh, the facilities manager, stated that the hotel was not open to the public and was just for the company’s founders and international workers when they visited Nigeria.

Ejeh said, ‘’This hotel accommodates the employers of Kindea Chinese Hotels. We don’t even accommodate foreigners. It is like the official quarters for their bosses when they visit Nigeria. The company rented the building from a Nigerian for their bosses, it is not open to the public.’’

The Chinese manager of the hotel, Gt Elly said, “We have not opened to outsiders since last year. Two or three years ago, everybody could come to the hotel but since last year, we did not open the hotel to outsiders.

“For now, the hotel is mainly meant for ourselves. Our cooperation leaders would come and before they came, they will call me and send RSVP to me to make a reservation because they stay in China. They will spend maybe just a week in the hotel.’’

The Maintenance officer, Balam Suleiman, said, “Twenty staff currently work in the hotel. Nigerians do not lodge at the hotel, we do not have Nigerian guests here.”

The situation was different at Panda Supermarket in Jabi, Abuja. When our correspondent arrived at the supermarket at approximately 10:40 a.m., he noticed a number of consumers freely entering and going.

Our correspondent was given equal access to the grocery, where he counted roughly five customers, including Chinese nationals engaged in trading.

At the gate, there were three Nigerian security personnel, and our correspondent saw three attendants in the store, as well as two cashiers, all of whom were of Nigerian ethnicity and were directed by a Chinese national.

In response to the locked supermarket, a Chinese diplomat from the Embassy in the Federal Capital Territory, who has spent three years in Nigeria but wishes to remain nameless, acknowledged the situation’s complexities.

He emphasized that the attitude (of the sealed supermarket management) did not represent all Chinese nationals, emphasizing the need of approaching each country’s specific difficulties with empathy and fairness.

“Majority of the Chinese people are friendly. You can see that a lot of developed countries have colonised developing country but China never bullied developing countries.

“I have been here for more than three years and I will still be in Abuja. What is happening is an individual case and not a general issue. It is not fair to all Chinese nationals,” the official noted.

Our correspondent observed no discrimination at the Food Corner and Karma supermarkets in Lagos, which are near the Bonny camp. Food Corner is owned by a Lebanese, and Karma by an Indian.

Our correspondent saw no discrimination at Food Corner Supermarket, which served both Nigerians and international nationals.When our writer visited Karma Grocery, he noticed two men who appeared to be Indians taking stock of their merchandise. There was no type of discrimination.

 Lagos China Town

The Nigerian and Chinese national flags were displayed side by side on the building’s top floor. As our correspondent approached the town’s lone entrance, Nigerians were seen entering and exiting.

Six structures were closely connected. Each structure housed multiple shops that offered garments and other cotton supplies.

Nigerians mostly occupied these establishments.Just before the entry, a food seller identified as Mama Blessing told our correspondent that she and other community business owners had free access to China Town, and that guests may enter without restriction.

“Some Nigerians who work in shops in China Town come here to buy my food since there is no restaurant inside the town. I also go to meet some of them inside the town if I need to collect something from them. It is free for everyone. The security would not even ask you what you want to do inside,” she told our correspondent on Monday.

When our correspondent sought to enter the gate, he did so freely despite the presence of security, including a guy in police uniform at the town’s entrance.

Also, when our journalist visited the Royal Mandarin Chinese restaurant on Monday along the Ibara axis in the Abeokuta South Local Government Area, he saw that all of the employees were Nigerians.

Meanwhile, numerous products in the mall were labeled in Chinese, which may prevent Nigerians from purchasing because many do not comprehend the Chinese phrases written on them.

A member of the organization’s staff, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, stated that, despite the restaurant’s Chinese name, it was owned and governed by Nigerian citizens.

He said, “This restaurant is just carrying the appellation of a Chinese restaurant. It is owned and controlled by a Nigerian. Even our major customers are local residents.”

A few customers sighted by our correspondent were also Nigerians. A customer, Abiola Shodehin, said, “I learnt this place is owned by a Nigerian and I have been patronising this restaurant for a while without any issue of discrimination.”

Also, when our correspondent arrived at the Sagamu Chinese supermarket on Monday, he went straight to the goods stand and was greeted by security personnel without any limits.

However, when our correspondent walked across the grocery, he encountered a language problem with the cashier, a Chinese national who did not speak English.

This assignment provided a communication obstacle, prompting the correspondent to use body movements.

Meanwhile, despite the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission’s injunction banning supermarkets engaging in price fixing and non-display of product pricing, there appeared to be noncompliance at this Chinese store.

It was also discovered that the majority of the products were branded in Chinese. When our writer questioned some people in the vicinity, they denied allegations of prejudice against locals.


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