Hundreds of rice farm workers, who were said to have been detained for months by an Indian rice firm in Kano, are asking the Federal Government to shut down the company and prosecute the owners for using Nigerians as slaves. Three of the 126 workers, Sani Sani, Dauda Mikaili and Tijjani Tukur, who spoke to Saturday Telegraph, told our reporter that they were forced to work for long hours against their wish for three months during the lockdown period occasioned by the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic. Sani, one of the rescued workers, said: “The management of the company subjected us to hash working condition with a threat of sack or non-payment of salary.
We were not allowed to visit our families, and were made to work long hours with N5,000 as incentives for the period.” Another, Hamza Ibrahim (28), claimed to have gained employment in the company in 2019, after completing his degree programme at Bayero University, Kano. Ibrahim said as a degree holder, he was paid N28,000, per month, and that the Indians had no regard for their Nigerian workers. According to him, “We were forced to remain and work in the factory since the first lockdown order imposed by the Kano State government in March. The Indians threatened to sack and punish anyone, who opposed their obnoxious decisions.
“Instead of obeying the government order, the company only increase our salaries by N5,000 so that we could continue to work. This is what enticed many of us to stay. “After sometime, they threatened those of us who refused their offer with dismissal and then went ahead to lock and forced us to work for long hours in the factory.
They only gave us little time to rest and we were not allowed to perform our daily prayers. “They didn’t also allow our families to visit us. Some of us were forced to work 24 hours non-stop. I’m happy to have been rescued from this bondage, but I’d like to appeal to the government to establish this kind of factory so that foreigners would not be coming here to enslave us.” Meanwhile, the Kano State governor, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, has tasked security agencies to speed up investigation into the hostage-taking of 126 Nigerians. A reliable source at the government house told our reporter that Ganduje is only waiting for the investigation launched by the police, before taking action against the company.