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Detained Kano rice workers – Ministry of labor denounces police intervention

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Detained Rice Mill Workers

Nasiru Yusuf

The Federal Ministry of Labor and Productivity has criticized the Nigerian police for rescuing hundreds of workers detained in a Kano rice mill.

Kano Focus reports that the police had rescued the workers after they had been detained in the Popular Farms rice mill at Challawa, Kano for about three months.

However, labor officer in the Kano office of the ministry, Abdullahi Ali told Kano Focus that the issue was not a police matter and that the company had treated the workers fairly.

Police rescue over 300 workers detained for 3 months in rice mill

“We visited the organization, we were conducted round, we interviewed workers and they confirmed to us that they were held in the company willingly.

“As far as we saw with our own eyes, the workers were treated well by the management.

“They were given feeding allowance, and even allowed to periodically visit their homes.” Mr Ali said.

The labor officer added that if the workers had any complaints they should report to the ministry of labor rather than the Nigerian Police.

“In the first place, an employment issue is not a police case.

“If there is any case of forced, compulsory or slave labor, the ministry of labor’s attention should have been drawn, and every agency has its own role to play.

Abdullahi Ali

Abdullahi Ali: Labor Officer

“As far as industrial issues are concerned, we have sole prerogative. “We are on exclusive legislative list of the federal government so when you have industrial issues you address it appropriately and rightly to the labor office and we can assign a labor officer to go and address it.

“We did not received such complaint; we only heard of it over the radio,” Mr Ali said.

The Kano Command of the Nigeria Police is yet to respond to this statement.

The labour officer also denied accusations by the National Union of Food,  Beverages and Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE) that he has connived with the company’s management to sabotage the inauguration of the union’s branch.

Union alleges “Compromise”

Kano state secretary of the NUFBTE, Usman Muhammad told Kano Focus that Mr Aliyu had been “compromised” by the company.

“There was a time we visited the factory along with the labour officer, the national president of the National union of food,  beverages, and tobacco employees, his deputy, general secretary, national treasurer and state leadership but the admin manager denied us entry.

“The labour officer’s approach to the matter showed that he has been compromised.

“Instead of taking decisive action, I overheard him pleading to the admin manager to allow us to enter.

“If he has done his work, the factory will not dare to maltreat workers,” Mr Muhammad said.

He said the union will prepare and send a comprehensive report on the incident to the Kano state branch of the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) for prompt intervention.

Influential people connive with foreigners

Meanwhile, Kano state chairman of the NLC, Kabiru Ado Minjibir has condemned the action of the company pending the receipt of the  report from the NUFBTE.

Mr Minjibir lamented that some Nigerians connive with foreigners to maltreat indigenous workers.

“Some influential people in Kano have contributed in degrading indigenous workers in the sight of expatriates.

“The last time labour leaders visited the said factory to inaugurate union leaders, they met resistance from management of the factory who at the end invited police to arrest the labour leaders.

“But if the matter involved indigenous factories, they don’t get such privileges.

“I don’t know why our leaders support foreigners to enslave our people in their factories.” Mr Minjibir said.

Detained workers not our staff

In its defense, Popular Farm Rice Mill said the labourers are not its employees and it is therefore not responsible for their welfare.

The administrative manager of the company, Kareem Saka told Kano Focus that the labourers are sourced from outside contractors.

“They are not our staff; we contracted loading and offloading contractors who hired those labourers.

“They had an agreement which they are paying them on daily basis. “And out of our own magnanimity we didn’t stop there, we still provided them with allowances, detergents, medical service and so on and so forth.” Mr. Saka said.

He added that the company provided a sleeping place for the workers in its farmland because they live far away from their homes.

Mr Saka however denied any knowledge that the workers were not allowed to go out at all.

“Our agreement is only with the contractors and not with their staff. “They are the ones who discussed with their labourers and agreed on their terms of employment,” he said.

Kano Focus had made several attempts to get the Kano state Ministry of Commerce and Industry to respond to the matter.

However, after several phone calls and text messages to the Ministry’s spokesperson, the commissioner Mahmoud Muhammad is yet to respond.

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Just in: Finance Minister suspends Accountant-general over alleged N80bn fraud

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Aminu Abdullahi

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr. Zainab Ahmed, has suspended the embattled Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, from office over his alleged involvement in N80billion fraud being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

KANO FOCUS reports that Idris was arrested on Monday by the operatives of the anti-graft agency over alleged diversion of funds and money laundering activities to the tune of N80billion.

He was arrested after failing to honour invitations by the EFCC to respond to issues connected to the fraudulent acts.

EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, in a statement, had said the commission’s verified intelligence showed that the AGF  raked off the funds through bogus consultancies and other illegal activities using proxies, family members and close associates.

He said the funds were laundered through real estate investments in Kano and Abuja.

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Kano experiences heavy rainfall in next three days – NiMet

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Nasiru Yusuf

 

 

The Nigeria’s meteorological agency, NiMet, has forecast moderate to heavy rainfall within the next three days in Kano.

KANO FOCUS reports that NiMet announced this in its weather advisory on Tuesday.

“As a result of the expected moderate to heavy rainfall in the next three days, there are chances of flash flooding of roads and low-lying settlements,” the agency said.

It added that “there could be disruption of traffic due to flooded or closed roads, reduction in visibility, likely damage to mud houses and possible disruption in flight operations.”

The rain is expected to be accompanied by strong winds, lightning and thunder, hence the falling of weak buildings and displacement of makeshift structures are likely, NiMet said.

Hence, it advised the public to exercise restraint, disconnect electrical appliances before, not during the storm, and avoid standing or parking cars under trees as much as possible.

NiMet urges emergency agencies to be prepared and keep monitoring to avoid low-level areas and fast-flowing runoff waters.

It also advised the public to be prepared for these events to avoid damage from rain-related hazards.

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VP Osinbajo visits scene of  Kano explosion

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Nasiru Yusuf

 

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has visited the scene of Kano explosive where he commiserated with the government and people of Kano state over the gas and explosion at Sabon Gari area of the state capital.

KANO FOCUS reports that the Vice president arrived at the scene of the explosion in company of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.

Osinbajo during the visit to the scene of the incident expressed shock that little school children were among those injured.

The Vice President who described the incident as devastating, sympathised with the victims and enjoined relevant authorities to take preventive measures against future occurrence.

He prayed for the repose of the souls of those who lost their lives and quick recovery of injured victims.

The Vice President and governor Ganduje were received and briefed by the Commissioner of Police Kano Command Sama’ila Shu’aibu Dikko.

Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje thanked the vice president for the concern and pledged medical and financial support to victims of the explosion.

The Vice President was in Kano to meet APC delegates ahead of party’s primary elections.

At least nine people are confirmed to have died in an explosion in the Sabon Gari area of Kano state on Tuesday morning.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in a statement said nine corpses have been recovered from the scene of the explosion.

NEMA’s spokesperson, Manzo Ezekiel, said the Director-General, Mustapha Habib, who visited the scene of the explosion, coordinated the rescue operations.

Mr Ezekiel said: “Nine dead bodies have been recovered so far from the rubbles of a collapsed building beside a primary school following explosions from a gas cylinder at Aba Road in Sabon Gari area of Kano.

“Director-General National Emergency Management Agency, Mustapha Habib Ahmed, was at the site of the incident and coordinated the rescue operations.

“He mobilised excavators being used for the rescue operations and said NEMA team will ensure complete removal of the rubbles to retrieve all trapped persons.

“Furthermore, the DG instructed the NEMA rescue team to remain at the site until the conclusion of the rescue and to work together with security agencies and other response organisations present at the location.

“NEMA is presently coordinating the rescue operations involving members, Nigerian Red Cross, military, the Nigerian Police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps, Kano SEMA, the official statement said.

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