On Tuesday, March 19, 2019, news broke that a Chinese Restaurant in Ikeja allegedly rejected Nigerians from entering its establishment on the grounds that they are Nigerians.
In an initial post by Instablog9ja, a Nigerian man complained to his friend that he could not enter the restaurant called Shi Shi Chinese Restaurant unless he was accompanied by a Chinese person.
Later on, Punch visited the restaurant located on 21B, Emina Crescent, Off Toyin Street, Ikeja, Lagos to confirm if the allegation was true.
Punch reports that its correspondent visited the restaurant on the morning of Tuesday, March 19, 2019 and was refused an entry into the restaurant by a security guard wearing Army combat camouflage.
The security guard reportedly told the correspondent he was acting on instructions.
The correspondent left a card and he was later contacted by the restaurant director, a Nigerian, Mr. Niyi Adegbite, who said that, “All over the world, Chinese restaurants are not open to every Tom, Dick and Harry.”
He did claim, however, that the Shi Shi Chinese Restaurant was open to the public. But when asked if Nigerians were allowed in the restaurant, Adegbite replied, “Not really.”
Adegbite told Punch that there are two sections of the restaurant – one strictly for Chinese people. He said, “I want to debunk all the allegations. The restaurant is open to everyone. But you know, Chinese restaurant is not for every Tom, Dick and Harry. Nobody can just enter.
“Come, and I will conduct you round the restaurant. I’m a Nigerian and how can I prevent my fellow people from entering in? But, of course, it’s for gentlemen, not for everyone.”
“The restaurant is divided into two sections. There is one open to the public and there is one called Hot Spot.
“The Hot Spot is where you enter and cook on your own. All the ingredients are made available. But it’s only for Chinese nationals.
“Maybe it’s this one that some people tried entering and were disallowed and is now causing the outcry.”
Pulse TV VJ Joshua Gigin had visited the restaurant with a few of his friends last weekend and according to him they were not allowed to enter because they were black.
“It happened last weekend. My friends and I got to the gate and even laughed with the Chinese women who were entering. When we tried to go in, the security officers did not allow us go in because we were black.
“The officers repeated it numerous times. I thought it was a joke. My friends and I left the restaurant quickly” he stated.
The security officer who claimed he has worked at the Chinese establishment for three years said there has never been a ‘No Nigerians’ policy.
“I have worked here for three years and we have never turned down any Nigerian. Please do not believe what you read on the Internet, it is fake” the security officer said.
He also showed our reporter a Nigerian woman and her daughter eating in the restaurant. The security officer also mentioned that there is a night club on the premises which is not open to everyone.
“There is a night club that but you can only gain entrance depending on how rich you are. Not everyone can go in except for people that have the money” he said.
His explanation differed slightly from what the director told Punch earlier in the day. The security officer refused to give the contact information for the manager.
There is a strong Chinese community in Lagos. In an interview with with Sun in 2017, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian, said there are 40,000-50,000 Chinese living in Nigeria.
In November 2018, a Chinese company reportedly sacked Nigerians for refusing to practice Buddhism.
On Tuesday, a statement signed by Steve Ayorinde, the Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts & Culture was released.
“Our officers were sent to investigate the veracity of the claim. The two officers who went there on Monday did so incognito and found the allegations to be false.
“The officers were served without any questions or discrimination. They also took photographs without being noticed. Our officers also observed that the restaurant had a number of Nigerians working inside there and did similarly observe that pepper soup, a Nigerian delicacy is also on the menu.
“More, importantly, the restaurant has been registered with the Lagos State Ministry of Tourism Arts and Culture since 2016 as required by law.
“As the regulators of eateries, restaurants, hotels, and other hospitality facilities in Lagos State, the Ministry of Tourism Arts and Tourism will further investigate this claim, beyond what our findings on Monday revealed and will be vigilant about the activities of this restaurant and its subsidiary” the statement read.