Police rescue 300 workers ‘locked in rice factory’ (photos)

About 300 workers of a rice-processing factory allegedly locked and forced to work throughout the coronavirus lockdown have been rescued by police, BBC reported.

The company, called Popular Farms, promised an additional $13 (about N5,000) a month to their $72 monthly salary and those who did not accept were threatened with a sack.

The workers were allegedly not allowed to leave the mill in Kano State since the first lockdown was imposed by the Nigerian government in March.

Police spokesman Abdullahi Haruna told the BBC that the plant had now been shut down and the owners were being investigated for “holding the men against their will”.

“So far, we have arrested four management staff and investigation has commenced,” Haruna said.

The manager of the rice mill, who identified himself as Abdulkareem, regretted the incident, saying he was not aware of the workers’ terrible condition.

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

“We were allowed to rest for only a short time, no prayers were allowed, no family visits,” 28-year-old Hamza Ibrahim, one of those rescued, told the BBC’s Mansur Abubakar in Kano.

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

“What I saw was heart breaking. Where the company kept these people to live isn’t fit for animals,” Karibu Yahaya Kabara of the Global Human Rights Network said.

“Their meals weren’t enough and there were no drugs for those that took ill,” he said.

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Kabara said his organisation were taking up the case to ensure that the men got justice.

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