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Group condemns forceful detention, forced labour of 126 workers for three months by employer in Kano

THE Nigerian wing of the International Lawyers Assisting Workers (ILAW) has condemned the forceful detention of 126 workers for three months by a rice mill company, Popular Farm in Kano State.

The ILAW made this known through a statement sent to The ICIR and signed by Benson Upah, the group’s Head of Information on Sunday.

According to the group, holding workers against their will, false imprisonment, forced labour, threats, and intimidation at the workplace, harassment, and starvation rations constitute not only unwholesome labour practices but also an infringement of individual’s right to liberty.

“The fact that these workers were held in an overcrowded facility/factory during the COVID-19 pandemic, contrary to Section 8 of the Factories Act, 1987 makes this act more reprehensible,” the group said.

“The conduct of the rice mill company is not only barbaric and nihilistic, but it also goes against the grain of Decent Work Agenda to which we all subscribe.”

It charged the Nigeria Police, Ministry of Labour and Productivity and the Nigerian Immigration Service to ensure that justice is served in the case.

‘We call upon the police, the Ministry of Labour, Immigration (the company is alleged to be Indian) and other appropriate authorities not to relent in their efforts in ensuring that the full weight of the law is visited upon the culprits,” ILAW wrote.

The ILAW stated that the company was not first-time offender as it is currently on suspension from membership Rice Processors Association of Nigeria.

The organisation said it would in collaboration with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) in Kano State employ all legal means to ensure that justice is served.

The ICIR had reported cases where employees were unlawfully detained and forced to work by their employers most especially foreign employers during the COVID-19 lockdown.

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