The Lagos State government has risen in defence of Shi Shi, a Chinese restaurant in Lagos that has been accused of racism for refusing patronage to Nigerians or allowing them into the premises.
Thesheet.ng on Tuesday reported that some Nigerians online accused the restaurant of racism after they were barred from entering the restaurant located in Ikeja, the Lagos State capital.
But in a Press Statement on Wednesday, the Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Steve Ayorinde, said that findings by its officers sent to “investigate the veracity of the claim” showed that the allegations were false.
“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.”
The ministry which regulates eateries, restaurants, hotels, and other hospitality facilities in Lagos promised to conduct further investigations.
However, findings showed that the restaurant only relaxed its obnoxious racist policy after the initial outrage on social media on Sunday.
According to Punch, the restaurant only threw open its doors to the general public after the issue had gone viral and had made the news.
Obianuju Uba, a Nigerian who had tried to use the restaurant and was turned back, found it strange that the government could rush to defend the restaurant.
Uba said, “We know what we witnessed. The government cannot tell us otherwise. Why would I be making spurious allegations against a restaurant?
“If the guards had told us that the restaurant was a members-only establishment, we would have understood and left. But we were told that we would not be allowed in because we are Black. That is truly what happened.
“So, I was confused because I had never experienced such in my life.
“I was shocked that a Nigerian — and not a Chinese — was used as the security guard. The guard even spoke with a Yoruba accent, so I was sure that he was a Nigerian.
“I was pissed off and left, and I walked away while my friends continued to argue with him.”
Blessing Ukeje, a computer programmer who was part of a group that was turned back on Saturday, reiterated that she had visited the restaurant along with four other friends around 8pm on Saturday and that they were turned back because they were Africans.
Ukeje said, “When we were about to enter, a guard asked what we came for and we responded that we were there for Karaoke.
“He told us that they didn’t have a Karaoke bar, but his colleague said they have, and that anyone who wants to enter must enter with Chinese people.
“He said Blacks are not allowed. He said the Blacks that come must come with Chinese people.
“We were all shocked because, even when we travel, we never see such.
“So, I asked him again if he was sure and he said that was the management policy.
“I actually thought I was dreaming. I asked him if he was okay with it as a Black man and he said nothing.
“While we were standing there, we saw Chinese people going in. Two Chinese ladies and two Chinese guys went in. It was after our experience that we decided to expose these people.”
When asked if she was denied entry because of the way they were dressed, Ukeje said, “I was coming from a wedding and I was well dressed. Those people had no excuse for turning us back.”