More than 500 immigrants, who allegedly entered the country illegally, are now said to be calling the shots at some of the factories owned by Asians in Lagos and Ogun States, respectively.
The illegal immigrants had gained entry into the country under the guise of being “visitors” but soon capitalised on the apparently relaxed immigration policies in the country to stay put. The illegal immigrants usually join their relations, who already may have gained permanent resident status, especially those of them already possessing the Nigerian Green Cards, to engage in various businesses.
A week-long investigation by our correspondent revealed that those who already have permanent resident status and even run businesses such as manufacturing factories, soon bring in their other family members under the status of visitors and systematically make provisions for the illegal immigrants to work in such factories as “senior hands” at the expense of qualified Nigerians, who are daily compelled to work for over twelve hours in disregard for Nigerian Labour Laws.
”Our law does not allow for more than eight hours, unless for overtime purposes for which monetary compensation must be made. But here, we are made to work for an average of twelve hours daily without compensation for the extra hours,” disclosed Miss Ronke [not real names], a factory worker at Avanti, a plastic manufacturing company at Agbara, Ogun State.
A systematic monitoring of activities in some of these companies indicated that, “The Nigerian factory workers, with total disregard for their professional and academic qualifications, earn the same amount of money and they work for over 11 hours daily on weekly basis and by the time they get home, they are worn out.”
Further checks revealed that an average worker earns N18000 monthly, which would not even be paid as and when due.
The alleged slavish policies operated by the Chinese/ Korean / Indian run factories appear to be deliberate as the workers do not have any means of seeking legal redress in the event of any accident/ injury at workplace as thousands of them are herded together in a noisy environment lacking the required ventilation.
It was further learnt that many of the workers in such companies are under-aged, but work for a living as a result of the economic hardship in the country.
“What the Chinese/ Indian task masters do is never to have any permanent staff as everyone is “casualised” as a routine exercise to keep the factories running. They pay their illegal immigrant brothers/sisters, who are nothing short of economic pests, far higher wages. Besides, any disgruntled individual, who dare challenge their deliberate slavish policies, are humiliated out of the company with the threat of inviting police to deal with them on trumped-up charges of theft or threat to life,” said a worker, who pleaded anonymity.
Further investigations revealed that some of the companies have their head offices at Agbara and Sango –Ota in Ogun State; Ogba , Oregun and Oba Akran axis of Ikeja, Lagos.
Meanwhile, both overt and covert investigations revealed that the illegal immigrants are the people who would become afraid to call either the police or any other law enforcer as a witness to crime.
“Of course, even legal immigrants avoid contact with police in order to protect undocumented family members or friends,” revealed a senior police officer at the State Criminal Investigations Department, Yaba, Lagos.
Meanwhile, an activist and lawyer, Olaseni Ajayi, has called on both Immigration officials and the police “to prioritise petty offences that can bring immigrants into contact with law enforcement, and to use their discretion to arrest those who drive without a licence since such stops can now be a pathway to deportation”.
Also commenting on the level of slavery going on in most of the Indian/ Chinese/Korean-run factories across the country, Mr. Dandy Eze of Paths to Freedom, said, “The Nigeria Labour Congress should, henceforth, picket the companies involved and see to their effective prosecution, where necessary, or invoke sanctions as a means of showing that there had been an infraction”.
He said that the government could not continue to pretend to be unaware of the “systematic destruction” of the lives of the Nigerian youths in “these concentration camps called factories.”