The police in Kano on Monday swung into action and rescued over 600 labourers who were forced to spend three months in a rice factory called ‘popular farm rice’, in Challawa industrial area of the State.
The workers revealed that they were threatened with their jobs if they chose to go visit their families.
Officers of the Kano police command obtained a Court order to search the rice factory and after the search, proceeded to arrest four managers, while the detained workers were released.
The factory prevented the workers from having contact with the outside world over fears that the workers could contract covid-19 and bring it into the factory.
One of the workers who was happy to be released told journalists that he has been in the rice factory since March 23rd and had not set his foot outside the factory.
Another worker, Haruna Salihu, said he had been in the factory since March 28 and was not granted permission to visit his family and parents.
“Our family members are seriously disturbed, as they don’t know the (condition we are in). My wife and my kids used to come to the factory’s gate and I couldn’t go and meet them.
“We were tricked to stay in the factory for five days, then (it was) extended to seven days, then two weeks and subsequently extended to one month. We are now detained for over three months.
“There are about 600 workers in the rice factory. We are sleeping in a very poor environment. I am appealing to authorities to allow me to go back to my family.”
Another employee said though he was not forced to stay, he was threatened with a sack if he decided to go outside the factory.
A truck driver identified as Hashimu Isa, who brought paddy rice from Kebbi State, narrated how he was kept in the factory for three days without going out.
“I brought paddy rice from Yauri, Kebbi State. I couldn’t go out of the factory, since my entry three days ago. Even if you attempted to go out, the security will not allow you. I couldn’t go out to give my boy money to buy food. Someone sent me ten thousand Naira, but I couldn’t go to the bank to withdraw it. I was waiting to (offload) the rice so that I will leave.”
The spokesperson of the Police Command in Kano, Abdullahi Haruna Kiyawa, said they have arrested four management staff of the factory, and investigations are ongoing to verify the allegations levelled against them.
“We have found many workers locked and enslaved in the factory. The commissioner of police, Habu A Sani, has directed for a thorough investigation. So far, we have arrested four management staff and investigation has commenced,” Mr Kiyawa said.
The manager of the rice mill, who identified himself as Abdulkareem, regretted the incident and said he was not aware the workers’ were in a terrible condition.