The Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Adamu Mohammed, and the Attorney-General of Kano State, Ibrahim Mukhtar, have unsealed the Tiamin rice company as ordered by the Federal High Court in Abuja.
The Kano state government had sealed the rice company on April 18 for allegedly being situated close to a COVID-19 isolation centre.
The state also alleged that the fume being emitted from the rice mill was harmful to COVID-19 patients at the centre.
Dissatisfied with the seal up, Tiamin Multi-services Global Ltd, Tiamin Rice Limited and Aliyu Ibrahim filed a fundamental rights enforcement suit marked: FHC/ABJ/448/2020 against the IGP, Kano state commissioner of police, Kano state government and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC).
The applicants in their suit contended that the distance of the mill is over 20kms from the isolation centre at Sani Abacha Stadium. The rice mill is said to produce 320 metric tonnes of rice daily and has 223 workers on its payroll and over 100 casual staff.
They also said being a food production company, they were exempted from the lockdown imposed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Justice Abang had on May 4, ordered the defendants to unseal the rice company on the grounds that the closure was made without a valid court order and violated the rights of the applicants as well as the exemption accorded food production companies by the Federal Government.
The judge held 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 also 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 restrained the Kano State government from further interfering with demolishing or attempting to cause harm to the owners.
He ordered the respondents to pay N300,000 to the applicants before taking any step in the proceedings and that the applicants “shall endorse Form 48 on the enrolled judgment order and serve same on the four respondents.”
Rather than comply with the judgment, the IGP and the Kano commissioner of police filed a fresh motion on May 15, seeking to set aside the judgment or stay the execution.
In reaction to the fresh motion, the applicant’s lawyer, Awomolo Adegboyega said, “They have shown inhumane treatment to innocent employees of the judgment creditors trapped in the facility since 18th April, 2020.
“The judgment debtors do not care even for the lives and welfare of staff for these innocent trapped and locked up in the factory premises.”
But at the hearing of the motion on Wednesday, Mr Awomolo informed the court that all barricades erected at the premises of the company by the police had been removed.
He praised the IGP for complying with the court’s order.