126 labourers who were allegedly held hostage for three months in a factory called ‘popular farm rice’ in Challawa industrial area of Kano state, have been rescued by the police.
It was learnt that the Nigerian labourers were ‘forcefully abducted’ by the firm, forced to work under hard condition despite the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown and promised only N5000 in addition to their meagre pay for working day and night during the lockdown.
4 senior staff of the Indian-owned? firm in Kano have been arrested in connection to the incident.
Kano Police Spokesperson, Abdullahi Haruna said;
“On the 21 June, 2020, at about 6pm.,? a complaint was received from Global Community for Human Right Network, Kano, that some labourers were wrongly confined inside Popular Farms and Mills Limited located at No. 54 Challawa Industrial Estate Kano.“On receipt, teams of Policemen were deployed and when search was conducted, 126 labourers trapped inside the Factory for three months were discovered. Investigation is in progress.”
The workers who spoke to The Nation, said the firm managers threatened to sack them if they go home to see their families. While one of the freed workers told journalists that he has been in the factory since March 23, another said he has been in the factory since March 28 and was stopped from seeing his family and parents.
A worker identified as Haruna Salihu said;
“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 factory. We are sleeping in a very poor environment. I am appealing to authorities to allow me to go back to my family.”