In northern Nigeria, workers were forced to produce during corona. They were not allowed to leave the factory for three months.
The conditions at the Popular Farms rice factory in the northern Nigerian state of Kano have long been inhumane. Workers complain that they have not been given enough food, nor have the sick been given medication. Regulated working hours with breaks and time to pray were out of the question.
Now it became known that 126 workers were forced to work there against their will for three months. They were not allowed to leave the company or receive family visits. The workforce itself speaks of 300 workers affected. After a tip-off, a human rights organization informed the police. The Indian company has since closed it and arrested five managers.
“What I saw broke my heart,” Karibu Yahaya Kabara of Global Human Rights Network told British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). “Animals can’t even be accommodated in this way.” Photos taken secretly show how parts of the workforce lie on boxes on the floor. Again and again people sit close together, nobody wears a face mask.
As a result, the company has also violated requirements to contain the corona virus. After South Africa and Egypt, Nigeria has the most cases on the continent. On Wednesday afternoon the number was 21,371 confirmed infections. Experts expect a high number of unreported cases. By contrast, rigorous curfews should help from the end of March. Companies were also asked to largely stop services and production.
Popular Farms workers report that they should double their working hours in February so that the company has a rice supply in the event of a corona shutdown. In March, however, it was decided to continue operations. The workers were promised a bonus of $9 per month, with an income of around $68. Those who had decided to do so were not allowed to leave the premises.
After Lagos and Abuja, the metropolis of Kano is particularly affected by Covid-19, there are 1,190 positive cases. 51 people have already died. Unlike in other regions, where churches and mosques reopen, for example, strict restrictions still apply in the state of the same name. For example, people are only allowed to leave their homes three days a week at prescribed times to buy food.