COVID-19: Court Fixes April 27 to Hear Case between Tiamin Rice Mill and Kano State Govt
•Court asked to unseal company, order Police to vacate premises
The Federal High Court sitting Abuja has fixed April 27, 2020 for hearing of the case asking it to unseal the premises of Tiamin Rice Limited, which was shut down by Kano State Government.
Kano State Government had on April 18, 2020 conveyed its “Notice for Closing Order” to Tiamin Rice, citing “complaints of air pollution ‘with aggravate Coronavirus patients”.
Tiamin is a leading rice mill in Kano, which produces 320 metric tonnes of rice daily, and has 223 workers on its payroll and additional over 100 casual staff.
Rattled by the decision, the management of company in an exparte motion dated April 20 and filed April 21, 2020, asked the court for an Interim Order to reopen the company for business and ensure that it was not only harassed but that the security of their staff would be guaranteed.
The company in the suit which it also joined the Inspector General of Police, Kano State Commissioner of Police and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) as respondents sought four reliefs seeking to enforce their fundamental rights.
To this end, the Company asked the Court to order the Kano State government and other three respondents, “their agents, officers, assigns, agencies, designates or any person or authority deriving power, directives or instruction from them to without further delay, unseal the premises of the Applicants rice process:ng mill situate at C14, A.M. Shehu House,Amana City, (Industrial Area) Zaria Road, Kano and restore the Applicants’ Fundamental Rights to own, occupy, use with the right of ingress and egress, freedom of movement personal liberty and dignity of their human persons as auaranteed under sections 34 i 35, 40, 41 and 43 of the 1999 constitution”, pending the hearing and determination of the case.
Tiamin Rice further asked the Court to grant its three-point relief pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on notice, an injunction restraining the Kano State Government from further occupying, taking possession of, destroy, demolish and -do anything adverse to the rights of the applicant in and over the property.
Ruling on the motion, Justice Okon Abang, converted the exparte application to motion on notice, on the basis of “the Applicants having failed to file the originating motion on notice at the time the application was argued”.
Justice Abang further ruled that Tiamin Rice shall effect service of the Order alongside the motion exprte as converted on notice by the Court delivered to the Kano State Government through the Office of the Attorney General of State Ministry of Justice and by publication of the order of the Court in either the
Leadership Newspaper or Daily Trust Newspaper which are the two Newspapers widely read in Kano Nigeria.
He subsequently ordered that the Court shall hear the application as converted on Notice on Monday 27th day of April, 2020 when all parties shall appear before it.
The Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Aliyu Ibrahim, had in a statement issued shortly after the company was sealed, claimed victimisation by the Government of Kano State.
Ibrahim argued that there are nearly 30 rice mills operating in Kano State, but Tiamin Rice Limited was the only Company affected by the order, despite its distance of over 20kms away from the isolation center at Sani Abacha Stadium.
He stressed that President Muhammadu Buhari, had in his nationwide address o the COVID-19 lockdown measures exempted all food prduction and processing companies in order to minimize the impact of the pandemic on the nation and ensure food security.
He warned that the effect of the closure of the company on the nation’s economy in general and Kano in particular cannot be over emphasized, adding that it has completely jeopardised the economy of the ancient city and has exposed the citizens to hunger.
“While making efforts to resolve the issue amicably, we wish to assure our loyal customers and distributors not to panic over this temporary setback. It is also heartwarming to inform our customers that our 600-tonne capacity plant in Bauchi State will soon be activated,” he stated.