'May our loyalty not be tested' is a sentence made popular by Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola.

For employees of a Chinese firm, Yiwu Baolian Import and Export Company Limited, not only was their loyalty tested, they were shown the exit door.

The dismissed employees accused the chief executive officer, Fanni Lijuan, of sacking some of their colleagues who refused to practise Buddhism.

The employees told Punch that Lijuan, who introduced Buddhism at the company’s office on Irede Road, Abule Osun, in the Ojo Local Government Area of Lagos State, allegedly compelled them to bow to worship her Buddha, adding that those who refused were sacked.

One of the employees, who identified himself simply as Olaniyi, alleged that the ‘strange’ instruction of the CEO was meant to convert them to Buddhism.

He said, “The issue is that Fanni Lijuan brought Buddhism to the office; she puts us in front of a projector that showed us how to practise Buddhism and we were asked to bow to the teacher. They also read some books to us, but before reading, we were asked to bow three times.

“Employees who refused to bow have been sacked; in fact, last week Monday, they sacked two people and the company’s excuse was that it was restructuring and it did not need the affected workers’ services anymore.

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"The workers were sacked because they refused to bow down; and after the company sacked them, the management threatened other employees that if we did not bow to the teacher, we would be similarly sacked.”

Peter added, “She (Lijuan) usually says bowing is a sign of respect and the practise is for us to be good persons. But does it mean that the people they employed don’t have respect before now? Is it that adults who have graduated from the university do not have respect? She’s trying to convert us to Buddhism; this is wrong and against our religions and traditions in Nigeria, where freedom of worship is guaranteed.

When Punch visited Yiwu Baolian Import and Export Company Limited, on Plot 36 Irede Road, Abule Osun, Ojo, Lagos, Lijuan denied introducing Buddhism in the company, adding that she wanted the employees to bow as a sign of humility, because they were arrogant.

She stated that she never sacked anyone because of religion, adding that she had fostered harmony among different religions.

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