The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and the Kano State government have bowed to a judgment by a Federal High Court in Abuja which ordered them to unseal Tiamin Rice company which has been unlawfully sealed up about two months.
The order for the unsealing of the company issued by Justice Okon Abang was said to have been fully complied with and the rice mill handed over to the owners.
Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), counsel to the owners of the Kano based rice company informed Justice Abang that all barricades erected at the company premises by police have been removed.
Awomolo, while reporting the development to the court on Wednesday applauded the Inspector General of Police for yielding to the court order, adding that the Police Chief has demonstrated loyalty to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Tribune Online reports that the Court had, during proceedings of last week, threatened to jail Kano State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice as well as the Commissioner of Police in the state over their unlawful closure of the Rice Company.
Justice Abang, had while issuing the threat, warned that unless the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Police obey his judgment ordering the unsealing of the rice company, “They will be guilty of contempt of court and will be committed to prison.”
Justice Abang’s threat followed the refusal of the Kano State government and the police boss to appear before him to give reasons on why they sealed up the rice company and stopped production without a lawful court order.
The Tiamin Rice Mill, Tiamin Multi-services Global Limited and Alhaji Aliyu Ali Ibrahim had jointly dragged the Inspector General of Police, Kano State Commissioner of Police, Kano State government and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) before the court seeking the enforcement of their fundamental rights.
They had complained of unlawful closure of their rice mill without any court order and prayed the court to order the respondents to vacate the premises of the company to enable them to resume production.
Although Justice Abang ordered the four respondents to appear before him on April 27 to defend their actions, none of them obeyed the court order and were not represented by lawyers despite being served hearing notices and newspaper publications to that effect.
Justice Abang had while granting the prayers of the three applicants, declared them as “lawful owners and occupiers of their property in Kano and are entitled to own property and enjoy or occupation, possession, and use of same.”
The court had also ordered that “the sealing of the rice processing mill and denial of lawful access without any lawful order constituted a violation of the owners’ fundamental rights under Sections 33, 34, 43 and 44 of the 1999 Constitution and is therefore illegal and unconstitutional.”
The judge had ordered the Inspector General of Police, the Kano State Police Command, their agents and privies to immediately take possession of the rice mill company from the Kano State government and grant access to the rightful owners for the purpose of continuing their lawful business.
Justice Abang had also restrained the four respondents and their servants” from continuing their unlawful acts of sealing off the rice company”, and ordered the Inspector General of Police and the NSCDC to unconditionally unseal the factory.
The judge while restraining Kano State government from further interfering with, demolishing or attempting to cause harm to the owners, ordered the respondents to pay a sum of N300, 000 to the applicants before taking any step in the proceedings and that the applicants “shall endorse Form 48 on the enrolled judgment order and serve same on the four respondents.”
Meanwhile, the court has declined further hearing of the matter on the ground that an appeal, challenging the judgment of the court had been entered at the Court of Appeal.
“An appeal is now before the Court of Appeal, I have no jurisdiction in this matter now and so, cannot make any pronouncement on the application by the 1st and 2nd judgment debtor seeking the setting aside of the judgment.
“The application is hereby refused”, Justice Abang held.