Posted by Chukwuemeka Opara | 29 August 2018 | 991 times
The Ebonyi Government on Tuesday sealed the Abakaliki Rice Mill Limited over the alleged infiltration of poisoned and adulterated rice in the mill.
Dr Kenneth Ugbala, the Governor’s Senior Special Assistant (SSA) on Internal Security, who announced the state government’s decision at a news briefing, said that the closure was with immediate effect.
Ugbala noted that the state Executive Council (EXCO) had received the news of the poisoned and adulterated rice with shock and deliberated extensively on it to save lives of citizens.
“The EXCO subsequently directed the concerned Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of health, agriculture, commerce and industry and internal security to seal the rice mill for full investigations to be carried out.
“The Ministry of Environment, which first received the report, informed us that the products are not fit for human consumption.
“The primary aim of every government is to protect the lives of its citizens as we want to prevent unsuspecting citizens from purchasing such products,” he said.
Commenting further on the situation, Sen. Emmanuel Onwe, State’s Commissioner for Information and Orientation, noted that the government did not know the source from which the products infiltrated the market and the type of poison involved.
“We do not know whether they are rat or other types of poisons but the commissioner for environment quickly dispatched a team to the mill on receiving the news of the infiltration.
“The team confiscated some samples of the product and they had labels of ‘not fit for human consumption’ boldly written on them.
“We will not go into the semantics of such labels but any responsible government should take precautionary measures immediately such development is discovered.
“This government being a responsible one took the normal, precautionary step to safeguard its people’s lives,” he said.
The New Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the SSA on Internal Security and other authorities involved in the sealing left the EXCO chambers immediately to enforce the directive.
In another development, the Ebonyi Government on Tuesday sealed the Dipro Filling Station at Ezzamgbo for allegedly dispensing adulterated kerosene to consumers in the area.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a resident of the area, Mrs Christiana Ibili, 34, reportedly purchased the commodity, which allegedly caused an explosion in a public residence on Aug. 24.
The explosion, which killed two children in the building, allegedly occurred when one of the tenants attempted to light up their lantern after pouring the kerosene into it.
The inferno from the explosion reportedly engulfed the entire house, leaving five-year-old Joy Ituma and six-year-old Joshua Onwe dead.
The inferno also left Ibili and another tenant, 18-year-old Uchenna Ituma, with severe burns, while the building was razed.
Speaking on the incident to NAN, Mr Bassey Chima, the Special Assistant to Gov. David Umahi on Petroleum and Oil, said that the station was sealed to enable the government to carry out proper investigation into the incident.
“We want to analyse the commodity to ascertain whether it was adulterated as widely suspected.
“We also want to ascertain its source of procurement and whether other petrol stations procured from the same source in order to avert a recurrence,” he said.
Chima promised that the government would get to the root of the matter and warned the public to cease from patronising the station henceforth until further notice.
The Ebonyi Police Command Public Relations Officer, ASP. Loveth Odah, told NAN that the command had written to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation for expert sample analyses of the commodity.
Odah said that the director of the petrol station was on the run and that police were making frantic efforts to arrest him.
“The station’s manager, Mr Emmanuel Ominyi, and an attendant, identified simply as Anayo, are in our custody and assisting us with useful information.
“The petrol station’s manager curiously claimed not to know the director’s name and both he and the attendant claimed that the director solely handles the procurement of petroleum products,” she said.
Odah said that police were still guarding the petrol station to prevent angry youths of the area from destroying it.
“This measure is to prevent further loss of lives and property. We appeal to people of the area not to take the law into their hand,” she said.
She said that the command had commenced full investigation into the incident.
Dr Emeka Ogah, the Chief Medical Director of the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, confirmed the death of the children to NAN.
Ogah also said that one of the survivors was still on admission in the hospital.
He said that the victim was responding to treatment but regretted that the hospital was in dire need of funds to be able to discharge its functions.
“It appears that the victim’s relatives abandoned him, so we appeal to the government, well-meaning individuals and organisations to come to his rescue,” he said. (NAN)
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