Four cows and 37 butchers have been arrested by for operating at an illegal slaughter slab at Otto Awori area of Badagry, Lagos, southwest Nigeria.
Officials of the Lagos State Government (the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives) in conjunction with the police taskforce have arrested stormed the area on Tuesday and arrested the cows and suspects.
The four cows were taken to Agege Abattoir, while four vans of butchered meat were carted away to the Taskforce office at Alausa where the suspects would be arraigned in court.
Adewunmi Olaseun, chairman of the illegal butchers, said they normally slaughter about 20 cows on daily basis, while paying N18,000 levy to officials of the Lagos State Government and N5,000 to the Otto Awori Local Council Development Area, LCDA, on weekly basis.
He said the association did not know that they were operating at an illegal slaughter slab.
According to Olaseun, the meat being sold by the butchers was not contaminated, stressing that “the fact is that we also consume the meat at times.
So, there is nothing wrong with the meat. We consume it. Our wives also consume it, so it is safe for consumption.
We have the receipts of the payment made to the government in our office.”
When asked why they attacked government officials with arms, he said: “The arms on us were to protect us against armed robbers.
We deal with money and we can’t allow robbers to kill us just like that. So, it is meant for protection against robbers.”
Another butcher, Ogundele Opeloyeru, said they had been working in the area for the past 15 years, while corroborating his colleague’s statement that they pay weekly levy to the state government and Otto Awori LCDA.
“We are not aware that we operate illegal slaughter slab,” he said.
Senior Special Adviser to the Governor on Agriculture and Co-operatives, Mr Nuraini Funso denied that government officials collect money from the illegal butchers.
“There are certified veterinary doctors in the entire registered and approved abattoirs in the state and there is a lot of danger in patronising illegal slaughter slabs.
The state government is doing enough to eradicate illegal slaughter slabs and abattoirs in the state.
Residents had been equally warned to desist from patronising unregistered and unapproved abattoir.
The state is very must concerned about the health of individuals in the state.
We can’t afford to allow Lagosians to consume meat that are not screened.
They are not just ready to change. We have about eight slaughter slabs and over 200 refrigerated meat vans.
They are just concerned about their pockets,” he explained.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Dr. Yakub Bashorun said government has declared zero tolerance for unwholesome meat distribution in the state, lamenting that those who operate illegal slaughter slabs do so without obtaining license from the government.
“They don’t have veterinary doctors to ascertain the health status of the animals before slaughtering them.
They have been creating nuisance and we have to dislodge them. Ignorance is no excuse. They know they are operating illegal abattoir,” he stated.
Bashorun appealed to Lagosians not to patronize illegal slaughter slabs to purchase meat as such meat was not healthy for consumption.
He said those arrested would be arraigned in court and that they would be made to face the music to serve as deterrent to others.
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