The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, and the Kano State Commissioner of Police have been accused of working to frustrate the enforcement of a judgment directing the immediately reopening of a rice factory sealed by the Kano State government.
Tiamin Rice Limited and two others, who are owners of the rice factory, made the allegation in a fresh document they filed against a motion by the IGP and Kano police chief, seeking to either stay or set aside the judgment given by a Federal High Court in Abuja on May 4, 2020.
Tiamin Rice Limited, Tiamin Multi Services Global and Alhaji Aliyu Ibrahim (the judgment creditors) also accused the IGP and the Kano police commissioner of frustrating efforts to rescue the workers trapped in the factory since it was forcefully sealed by agents of the state government on April 18 this year.
The Tiamin Rice processing factory, located at C14 AA Shehu House, Amana City, Zaria Road, Kano, was sealed by the state government, claiming that it was too close to an isolation centre created for COVID-19 patients.
Tiamin Rice Limited, Tiamin Multi Services Global and Alhaji Aliyu Ibrahim challenged the state government’s action in a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed before the Federal High Court, Abuja, in view of the lockdown and other restrictions put in place by the Federal Government.
In a judgment on May 4, Justice Okon Abang faulted the Kano State government’s decision to seal the factory, ordered its immediate reopening and awarded N300 million damages in favour of the applicants.
Justice Abang held, among others, that the closure of the factory, without a valid court order, violated the rights of the applicants and the exemption accorded food production companies by the Federal Government.
Rather than comply with the judgment, the IGP and Kano police chief filed a fresh motion on May 15, 2020, asking the court to either stay the execution of the judgment or set it aside.
They claimed that the lockdown announced by the Federal Government prevented them from participating in the earlier hearing conducted in the case, which lead to the May 4 judgment.
But in their counter-affidavit, the applicants queried the interest of the IGP and the Kano police chief in seeking to frustrate the execution of the judgment that did not directly affect them.
They argued that the new motion was not only designed by the IGP and the Kano police chief to frustrate the execution of the judgment, it was an abuse of the court’s process since they had already filed a notice of appeal against the judgment.
The applicants added the conduct of the IGP and the Kano CP “are, on the facts of this case, a direct challenge to the authority of the court and it demonstrates impunity, showing that they have the right to ignore and dare the court.
“They have shown inhuman 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.”
They prayed the court to reject the fresh motion by the IGP and the Kano CP, and ordered them to comply with the judgement given on May 4 failing which they would be liable to be held for contempt.
Lawyer to the judgment creditors, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN) on Thursday said he had served the judgment debtors, including the IGP and the Kano police chief with his clients’ counter-affidavit.
Lawyer to the IGP and Kano police chief, Celestine Odo, confirmed being served, but sought a short time to enable him file a reply.
Although the Kano State government and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) are also judgment debtors in the matter, they were not represented yesterday in court.
In a ruling, Justice Abang ordered that hearing notice be served on the state government and the NSCDC through email, due to the existing inter-state lockdown.