The Police in Kano State are investigating the circumstances under which 126 workers in a rice mill in Challawa, Kano, were detained and forced to work throughout the coronavirus pandemic lockdown period.
The men, rescued by the police on Monday, allegedly spent nearly three months in the factory, popularly known as Farm Rice, in Challawa Industrial Area of Kano City, under harsh and inhuman conditions.
HumAngle gathered that policemen on Monday stormed the factory after obtaining a court order, arrested four managers of the factory and rescued the workers.
Haruna Salihu, one of the workers, said he had been in the factory since March 28 and was denied opportunity to visit family and friends.
He said, “My family was immensely disturbed as they were unaware of my situation. Sometimes my wife and my children do pay a visit to the factory gate but access to see them was denied.
“It was a painful situation for us as little food is given to us.”
A 28-year-old man, Hamza Ibrahim, said some people were forced to stay and work during their incarceration, with little food.
“We were allowed to rest for just some hours, no prayers were allowed and no family visits,” Ibrahim said.
A truck driver, Hashimu Isa, who brought paddy rice from Kebbi State to the factory narrated how he was kept in the factory for three days.
He said, “I bought paddy rice from Yauri, Kebbi State. I could not go out of the factory after my entry. Even if you attempted to go out the security would not allow you.
“I could not go out to give my boy money to buy food. Someone sent me N10,000 but I couldn’t go to the bank to withdraw it.
“I was waiting to offload the rice so that I would leave.”
The workers explained that they were engaged to stay in the factory for five days only but two days was added, which made it seven days of employment and subsequently, two weeks.
They said the employment period was later extended to one month they were detained for three months.
They said that they were 126 workers in the factory, who slept in very poor and unhealthy conditions.
DSP Abdullahi Haruna Kiyawa, the Police Public Relations Officer in Kano State, told HumAngle by telephone that the plant had been shut and that the owners would be investigated for holding the workers against their wish.
Kiyawa further explained that the police had arrested four management staff of the factory for questioning but the manager of the mill, Abdulkareem, said he was not aware of the incident and the condition of the workers.