A firm, Hand In Hand Industry Nigeria Limited, has accused the police of aiding its tenant, H&P Woods Limited, to move out of its warehouse without paying the outstanding rent of about N31m.
It was gathered that H&P Woods had rented a warehouse space at KM 3, Igboko Village, Lusada, Igbesa Road, Ogun State, from Hand in Hand Industry Nigeria Limited in December 2015.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the sum of 1,464,000 Chinese yuan (N75m) was agreed to be paid yearly on or before the expiration of the previous rent.
At the expiration of the rent in 2018, H&P Woods reportedly failed to renew its tenancy by refusing to pay the agreed sum.
Following the death of three staff members of H&P Woods, in the warehouse, the Corporate Affairs and Logistics Manager of Hand In Hand Industry Nigeria, Lanre Adu, alleged that the police aided the Chinese firm to move out of its premises without paying the outstanding rent.
Adu further alleged that the police detained an employee of HIHIN as an alibi for their act.
He said, “H&P Woods Limited rented a warehouse space in our industrial park back in December 2015 with an agreement to pay the rent yearly and also to give three months’ notice whenever it decided to move out.
“When the rent expired on December 1, 2018, it was supposed to pay for another year, but it didn’t and failed to notify us about moving out. Incidentally, three employees of H&P Woods died in strange circumstances on the night of December 14, 2018. The case was taken up by the police and investigation is still ongoing.
“Sometime in April 2019, one of the directors of H&P Woods went to speak with our chairman that they wanted to pack out of the premises. The chairman agreed to collect the rent for five month as against the one year rent that was supposed to be paid as well as the security levy, which added up to 670,000 yuan, but the chairman asked the firm to pay the sum of 600,000 yuan, which it promised to pay within a week.”
Adu said Hand In Hand’s Sales Manager, Mr Chen Zhang, was invited to the Zone 2 Police Command headquarters in Onikan, Lagos, and was detained for four days in connection with the death of the three Chinese men working in the warehouse for H&P Woods and was re-arrested on June 11, 2019, when the police allegedly aided the firm to move its things out of the premises.
Adu stated, “I was in the factory when I got a letter that our sales manager was invited to the Zone 2 headquarters on June 3. The sales manager was detained because he refused to sign a statement that H&P Woods had paid the rent but we prevented it from moving out of the premises and the police also alleged that we were responsible for the death of its workers.
“We met with H&P Woods’ lawyer at the Zone 2 headquarters and he bargained that we should forfeit 50 per cent of the money the firm was supposed to pay. I promised to get back to him after I must have reached out to my chairman and that was when our sales manager was released. We agreed to meet at the Zone 2 headquarters again on June 11.
“By the time we got to the Zone 2 on the agreed date, I was called from the warehouse by the security man on duty that some policemen were there with a document with the heading: ‘Continuation of investigation’ and were standing guard, while H&P Woods was packing its things. The evacuation lasted till June 15 and there was nothing we could do to stop it. It was pure impunity.”
The Public Relations Officer, Zone 2 Command, DSP Hauwa Idris, however, said the police were only at the warehouse to provide security as requested by the company, adding that anybody had the right to ask for security if they felt that their life was being threatened.
Idris stated, “Three Chinese were killed in the warehouse and the others were scared. Though the rent had expired and the firm said it was going to pay, it said it could no longer stay on that premises.
“Because the rent it paid included the security levy and for its workers to be killed, it means there was no security. It wanted to pack out but the owner of the warehouse was making trouble. So, the police were invited there to provide security and not to prevent the firm from paying its rent.
“Anybody can ask for police protection if they feel that their life is threatened; the firm only needed the police to avoid trouble. The issue of the rent is not a police business.”