Godwin Tsa, Abuja
A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Kano State Government and the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to immediately unseal the premises of a rice processing factory, Tiamin Rice Limited, in Kano State.
Justice Okon Abang of the Abuja division of the court gave the order which was predicated on contempt proceedings initiated by Form 48 Order 9 Rule 13 of the court bordering on notice of consequence of disobedience to order of the court.
In the certified true copy of the order of the court, Justice Abang ordered the Inspector-General of Police, Commissioner of Police, Kano State, Government of Kano State as well as the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), who were listed as 1st to 4th respondents respectively, to immediately unseal the premises of the rice processing factory or be liable to be committed to prison.
The court held that it was satisfied that the respondents had been duly served with all court’s processes as well as the court’s order directing them to appear before it on April 27th, but ‘they failed to appear before the court and offered no reason for being absent in court.’
In considering the applicants’ (Tiamin Rice Limited, Tiamin Multi Service Global Limited and Alhaji Aliyu Ali Ibrahim who are the 1st to 3rd applicants, respectively) reliefs as contained in the originating motion on notice dated April 20th, Justice Abang declared that ‘the applicants are lawful owners and occupiers of their property situated at C14, A. A. Shehu House, Amana City, Zaria Road, Kano and are entitled to own property and enjoy peaceful occupation, possession and use of same including the right of ingress and egress to the said property, as guaranteed under the 1999 constitution of Nigeria (as amended).’
The court further held that the sealing of the business premises of the applicants’ rice processing mill and the consequent denial of lawful access without any order of a competent court of law backing up the said denial of access constitute a violation of the applicants’ fundamental rights guaranteed under the Nigerian constitution and, therefore, ‘illegal and unconstitutional’.
‘The continued closure of the 1st applicant’s premises or restriction of movement by the 3rd respondent through its agents is unlawful, unconstitutional and constitute an infringement of the applicant’s fundamental right to human dignity, right to personal liberty, and right to freedom of movement guaranteed under sections 34, 35 and 41 of the constitution and articles 5, 6 and 12 (1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right Act.
‘The 1st and 4th respondents, whether jointly and or severally by themselves, their agents, employees, operative(s), detectives, officer(s), or howsoever by whatever name called, shall forthwith unconditionally unseal, takeover and put into possession the applicant’s rice mill factory.
‘The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Kano State being an agent of Kano State government, the 3rd judgment debtor, herein shall, forthwith, ensure compliance with the instant subsisting judgment order of this court,’ the judge held.
Justice Abang slammed the sum of N300,000 as cost in favour of the applicants/judgment creditors payable by the respondents/judgment debtors before taking any steps in the proceedings.