4:06 pm - Saturday November 26, 1955

INVESTIGATION OF POPULAR FARMS: Slavery Indian company in Nigeria BUSTED, Police rescue over 100 workers locked in rice factory …forced to work throughout on-going Coronavirus lockdown * Men cramped in the northern city of Kano, not allowed to leave the mill * Workers promised an additional $13 (£10) a month on top of their $72 monthly salary – those who refused threatened with sack * Many coerced to work most of the time during incarceration with little food, five managers arrested * “No prayers allowed, no family visits”- 28-year-old Hamza Ibrahim, one of those rescued * “What I saw was heart breaking. Where the company kept these people to live is not fit for animals”-Karibu Yahaya Kabara of the Global Human Rights Network * ‘The plant had now been shut down and the owners are being investigated for holding the men against their will’-Police spokesman Abdullahi Haruna *BY AMINU AHMED, REPORTER, KANO


INVESTIGATION OF POPULAR FARMS:

Slavery Indian company in Nigeria BUSTED, Police rescue over 100 workers locked in rice factory

forced to work throughout on-going Coronavirus lockdown

* Men cramped in the northern city of Kano, not allowed to leave the mill

* Workers promised an additional $13 (£10) a month on top of their $72 monthly salary – those who refused threatened with sack

* Many coerced to work most of the time during incarceration with little food, five managers arrested

* “No prayers allowed, no family visits”- 28-year-old Hamza Ibrahim, one of those rescued

* “What I saw was heart breaking. Where the company kept these people to live is not fit for animals”-Karibu Yahaya Kabara of the Global Human Rights Network

* ‘The plant had now been shut down and the owners are being investigated for holding the men against their will’-Police spokesman Abdullahi Haruna

BY AMINU AHMED, REPORTER, KANO

IT IS AN INDIAN Company in Kano state, Nigeria where 100 workers were ‘kidnapped’ in a rice-processing factory and forced to work throughout a Coronavirus lockdown. Police in Nigeria have rescued more than 100 people in the factory. They had no break, no time to rest, not allowed family visit under any condition.

From the end of March the men were allegedly not allowed to leave the mill in the northern city of Kano. The workers were promised an additional $13 (£10) a month on top of their $72 monthly salary – those who did not accept were threatened with the sack.

Five managers of this Indian-owned mill have been arrested, even when the company, called ‘Popular Farms’, has not issued any press statement.

Police spokesman Abdullahi Haruna reportedly said that the plant had now been shut down and the owners were being investigated for “holding the men against their will”. He said 126 people had been found, even though few workers 300 were rescued.

Some of the men say were forced to work most of the time during their incarceration, with little food.

28-year-old Hamza Ibrahim, one of those rescued said: “We were allowed to rest for only a short time, no prayers were allowed, no family visits.”

‘Living like animals’

The police were tipped off about the men’s plight after one of them called a human rights organisation.

Corroborating this view, Karibu Yahaya Kabara of the Global Human Rights Network claimed: “What I saw was heart breaking. Where the company kept these people to live isn’t fit for animals. Their meals weren’t enough and there were no drugs for those that took ill. We are taking up the case to ensure that the men got justice.”

Nigerian businesses were asked to close up shop in late March as part of government guidelines to halt the spread of Coronavirus.

The country has more than 20,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus. Lagos, in the south, remains the epicentre of the virus, but Kano – Nigeria’s second-biggest city and the capital of Kano state, has the most cases in the north.

Lockdowns elsewhere in the country have been eased – but in Kano people are still only allowed to go out on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to buy food at stipulated times.

Popular Farms workers say they were asked to double their hours in February as their employers wanted to stockpile in preparation for a shutdown. By March they say it was decided to keep the plant going by offering them more money – or the sack – to stay on working.

However, having agreed to stay on the workers discovered they had been prevented from ever leaving the mill. We are on top of this story.

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