Two women who have dual citizenship and are both Nigerian and British were detained in China for more than two months after their dream holiday turned to nightmare.
Modupe Idowu, 59, and her friend Esther Jubril Badmos, also 48 (pictured above), who live in the UK were arrested after becoming embroiled in a dispute at a shoe shop in the city of Guangzhou.
They were locked up in ‘hell-like’ conditions at a detention centre for 38 days and although they have now been released, the two women remain trapped in the country as their visas have expired and authorities refuse to issue them new ones.
Mrs. Idowu’s desperate family said the two women’s ordeal began when Ms Badmos asked the shop to amend an order she had lodged earlier in the trip.
She was then assaulted by two members of staff before both women went to a police station.
Mrs. Idowu, from Islington, North London witnessed a vicious attack on her friend.
Daughter Sarah Murray said: ‘Although Esther tried to defend herself, she was pushed to the floor, kicked and beaten – and handfuls of her hair were ripped out.
‘A security guard locked them in a room and another man, who we think is the shop owner’s brother, came to the room and punched Esther.’
When they arrived at the police station their passports were seized and they were pressurized into signing paperwork they didn’t understand, before being flung into a cell overnight without food and moved to a detention centre the next day.
Ms Idowu, who is known as Mary, was put in a cell with six other women – forced to sleep on a wooden plank and go to the toilet in front of the other prisoners. Her friend was taken to the centre’s hospital where she was treated for her injuries.
Meanwhile Mrs. Idowu’s five children have struggled to find out any information about their mother – despite paying lawyers in China around £4,000 to find out – and two of them flew to the country to track her down at the end of July.
Both women were released on July 29 but since then have been met with an onslaught of demands including a £20,000 claim for damages from the shop owner, which was eventually settled with £4,500.
But their visas have now expired and they cannot be issued with new ones until police provide paperwork to show the charges had been dropped.
Despite endless visits to the police station, officers refuse to tell them when, and if, the documentation will be provided.
Mrs. Murray said she barely recognised her mum when she saw her come out of prison.
‘When I saw her, I thought she looked like an old woman. She could not walk properly. She was so frail and so skinny as she had lost a couple of stone as she barely ate.’
Mrs. Murray, who returned from China last week, added: ‘I can’t really put this experience into words. We are totally confused. It’s like watching a horror film.’
Her sister, Julie Idowu, 26 said: ‘Our pain is very real. I have been crying every day. I have taken a lot of time off work as I’m so worried about my mum.
‘Her health and mental state is a big concern as well as the fact that she has missed her operation.
‘It’s an injustice that my mum has been held for all this time for witnessing an assault on her friend.
Her other sister, Elizabeth Idowu, criticised lawyers, saying: ‘People are exploiting our despair. They are making money out of our continued suffering.’