The Ebonyi state government on Tuesday, August 28, sealed the Abakaliki Rice Mill Limited over the alleged infiltration of poisoned and adulterated rice in the mill.
Kenneth Ugbala, the governor’s senior special assistant 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 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 firstly 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, Senator 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 type 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.
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com previously reported that the federal government says it will shut down the land border between Nigeria and a neigbouring country to avoid smuggling of foreign rice into the country.
Audu Ogbeh, the minister of agriculture and rural development, said shutting the borders had become necessary to encourage local production and sustain the economy of the country. Nigeria shares borders with Niger, Chad, Benin and Cameroon.