The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, ordered governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, to immediately unseal a rice mill in the state, Tiamin Rice production company, which was asked to stop its operations, in enforcement of the COVID-19 lockdown directive.
The court, in a judgement that was delivered by Justice Okon Abang, made the order following a suit that association of farmers in the state filed against the Kano State government.
The farmers had through their lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, contended that the action of the state government was in violation of their fundamental human rights and exception order that was given by the government.
They challenged the powers of the state government to seal the company over claim that the rice mill is situated near a COVID- 19 isolation center and that fume emitting from the company was affecting coronavirus patients.
Both the farmers and the company urged the court to enforce their fundamental rights, describing the mill as the biggest rice production company in Nigeria.
The Applicants told the court that Tiamin Rice was one of the companies that was permitted by government to continue production for the purpose of providing food for the people in the period of the COVID-19 pandemic.
They argued that the mill is creating job opportunities as well as alleviating the hardship the pandemic brought on the people.
Meantime, though Kano state government, the Commissioner of Police in the state and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, were cited as Respondents in the matter, none of them responded to the suit, despite hearing notice that was served on them.
Consequently, Justice Abang, in his judgement, held that they were afforded fair hearing and ample opportunity to state their case, but failed to do so.
The court also noted that the Applicants were duly issued exemption permit by the government to produce more food during the lockdown.
It, therefore, ordered the state government to unseal the mill, adding that the action of the state government in sealing it without a court order, amounted to gross violation of fundamental rights of the Applicants.
The court also restrained the Kano state government from further interfering with activities of the Applicants.
More so, Justice Abang ordered the Inspector General of Police and his officers in Kano State Command to immediately take possession and grant the Applicants access to the property.
He equally awarded N300, 000 as damages against the Respondents and ordered the Attorney-General of the state to ensure that the judgement was complied with.