CORONAVIRUS: Kano Govt, Police Shun Court Order Unsealing Tiamin Rice Factory

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A Nigerian policeman stands guard as All Progressives Congress (APC) party supporters march towards the Independent National Electoral Commission Office in Port Harcourt during a demonstration calling for the cancellation of the presidential election in the Rivers State on March 29, 2015. Thousands of supporters of Nigeria's main opposition party demonstrated in the southern state of Rivers, calling for the cancellation of elections locally because of alleged irregularities. AFP PHOTO / FLORIAN PLAUCHEUR (Photo by FLORIAN PLAUCHEUR / AFP)

The Kano State Government and Police Command are still yet to unseal the premises of Tiamin Rice Factory in the State capital after a Federal High Court in Abuja ordered them to do so about two-week.

The Kano State on a controversial allegation of ‘air pollution that aggravates Coronavirus patients’ had shut down Tiamin Rice, a leading rice mill in Kano, which produces 320 metric tonnes of rice daily, and has 223 workers on its payroll and additional over 100 casual staff.

Justice Okong Abang had on Monday, May 4, 2020, ordered the unsealing of the commercial facility, after the State Government ‘illegally’ shutdown the company over the COVID-19 allegation without any lawful court order..

However, PRNigeria gathered that the Rice Factory was still under lock and key as of Thursday (today).

Both the Police Commissioner, Habu Sani and Spokesperson of the Command in the State, Abdullahi Haruna did not pick reporter’s calls, nor responded to text messages, for comment over the case.

But one of the aides to the Commissioner, who pleaded anonymity, said the state police boss has received the court orders and minuted on it.

The aide assured that the necessary action will soon be taken on the matter by the leadership of Police Command.

Meanwhile, Justice Abang had threatened to jail the Kano Attorney General and Police Boss, for failing to comply with their Federal High Court’s order.

He warned that unless the Attorney General and the Police Commissioner obeyed his judgement ordering the unseal of the rice company, they “will be 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 on why they sealed up the rice company and stopped production without a lawful court order.

The Tiamin Rice Mill, Tiamin Multi-services Global Limited and Alhaji Aliyu Ali Ibrahim, had jointly dragged 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.

They had complained of unlawful closure of their rice mill without any court order and prayed Justice Abang to order them out of the company to enable them resume production.

Although, Justice Abang ordered the four respondents to appear before him on April 27 to defend their actions, non of them however, obeyed the court order and were not represented by lawyers 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 or 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 and stopping of production 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.”

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