By Yemi Oyeyemi, Abuja
The Inspector General of Police IGP and the Attorney General of Kano state have at last bowed to a federal high court judgment which ordered them to unseal a multi-million naira Tiamin Rice Company, unlawfully sealed up about two months ago.
The order for 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.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, who is lead 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.
The Senior Counsel while reporting the development to court showered encomiums on the Inspector General of Police for yielding to the court order.
By the action, Awomolo said that the Police Chief has demonstrated loyalty to the Constitution.
He further informed the Judge that the IGP has demonstrated faithfulness to the oath of his office and also demonstrated obedience to the rule of law which requested obedience’s to court judgment for IGP and subordinates.
The Court had at the last hearing, 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 multi-million naira Tiamin Rice Company.
Justice Abang, had while issuing the threat, warned that unless the Attorney General and the Commissioner of Police obeyed his judgment ordering the unseal of the rice company, they “will be guilty of contempt of court and will be committed to prison.”
The threat of the judge followed the refusal of the Attorney General 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 Justice Abang to order them out of the company to enable them resume production.
Although, Justice Abang ordered the four respondents to appear before him on April 27 to defend their actions, non of them however, 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 off of the rice processing mill and denial of lawful access without any order of competent court of law backing up the sealing off 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.”
Justice Abang had voided the action of Kano State in sealing off the rice company and stopping of production without any notice or fair hearing, declaring it as an unlawful act.
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.”