The Kano State Government and state Police Command are yet to unseal the premises of Tiamin Rice Factory in the state capital, two weeks after a Federal High Court in Abuja had ordered them to do so.
Recall that the state government had shut down the factory over allegation of ‘air pollution’ which, according to the government, aggravates Coronavirus patients in the state.
The management of the factory, thereafter, approached the court seeking restraining order on the state government’s action on the factory which produces 320 metric tonnes of rice daily, and has 223 workers on its payroll.
The management of the company had jointly sued the Inspector-General of Police, Kano State Commissioner of Police, Kano State Government and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, NSCDC, seeking the enforcement of their fundamental rights.
On Monday, May 4, Justice Okong Abang had ordered the unsealing of the factory, declaring the state government’s action as unlawful.
However, PRNigeria gathered that the rice factory was still under lock and key as of Thursday (today).
The Police Commissioner, Habu Sani, and spokesperson of the state command, Abdullahi Haruna, did not pick their calls nor respond to the text messages sent to their mobile numbers for comment over the case.
Meanwhile, Justice Abang had threatened to jail the Kano Attorney General and police boss for failing to comply with the court’s order, warning that they “will be found guilty of contempt of court and will be committed to prison”.
The threat of the judge followed the refusal of the Attorney General and the police boss to appear before him to give reasons why they sealed up the rice company without a lawful court order.
Although Justice Abang ordered the four respondents to appear before him on April 27 to defend their actions, none of them, however, obeyed the court order nor sent their representatives despite being served hearing notices and newspaper publications to that effect.
Justice Abang, while granting the prayers of the three applicants, declared them as “lawful owners and occupiers of their property in Kano and are entitled to own property and enjoy the occupation, possession, and use of same”.
The court also ordered that, “the sealing off of the rice processing mill and denial of lawful access without any order of competent court of law backing up the sealing off constituted a violation of the owners’ fundamental rights under Sections 33, 34, 43 and 44 of the 1999 Constitution and is therefore illegal and unconstitutional.”
Justice Abang voided the action of Kano State in sealing off the rice company without any notice or fair hearing, declaring it as an unlawful act.
The judge ordered the Inspector General of Police, the Kano State Police Command, their agents and privies to immediately take possession of the rice mill company from the state government and grant access to the rightful owners for the purpose of continuing their lawful business.
Justice Abang restrained the four respondents and their servants “from continuing their unlawful acts of sealing off the rice company”, and ordered the Inspector General of Police and the NSCDC to unconditionally unseal the factory.
The judge, while restraining Kano State government from further interfering with, demolishing or attempting to cause harm to the owners, ordered the respondents to pay a sum of N300,000 to the applicants before taking any step in the proceedings and that the applicants “shall endorse Form 48 on the enrolled judgement order and serve same on the four respondents”.