SWITZERLAND, JUNE 25 – The police command in Kano says it rescued 126 workers held hostage for three months at Popular Farms and Mills Limited located in Challawa Industrial Estate area of the state.
The Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Abdullahi Haruna, confirmed this in a statement in Kano. Haruna revealed that on June 21, at about 6:00 p.m., a complaint was received from Global Community for Human Right Network, Kano, that some labourers were wrongly confined inside the said Popular Farms and Mills.
“On receiving the information a team of policemen was deployed and when a search was conducted, 126 labourers trapped inside the factory for three months were rescued,” he said.
According to him, four officials of the factory have been arrested and investigation has commenced to “unravel facts of the matter”.
The workers reportedly said that they were denied exit from the mill since the beginning of the nationwide lockdown imposed in March for fear of importing COVID-19 into the factory.
They said they were promised an increase in their monthly salary, and that those who did not accept were threatened with dismissal.
The workers alleged that they were forced to work in poor condition during their lock up.
“We were treated like slaves for three months,” one of the freed workers was quoted to have said.
“We were all set free on Monday. It was a nasty experience…I don’t know how to describe the food we were fed with. The head of the administration recruited one woman who was cooking the food for us to buy.
“My monthly salary was N32,000. We were working day and night. I wanted to leave but there was no way; my wife and children were traumatized.”
Karibu Kabara, a member of the human rights network, said his organisation was taking up the case to ensure that the men got justice.
“What I saw was heartbreaking. Where the company kept these people to live isn’t fit for animals,” he said.
“Their meals weren’t enough and there were no drugs for those that took ill,” he said.