Port Harcourt: Fresh facts emerge on 27 lifeless cows
• Only Two Vets In Rivers’ Agric Ministry
Fresh facts have emerged about the 27 dead cows smuggled into Rivers State from Adamawa State. The Guardian gathered that the cows died as a result of malnutrition and stress.
According to findings, the malnutrition was deliberate because the cattle dealers believe that the Southern part of the country has lots of animal feeds, so, they knowingly starved the animals with the hope that they would get animal feeds when they get to the south.
Further findings revealed that, when the cows arrive Rivers State, the dealers feed them for a while before selling them. The dealers, the story continued, ran out of luck when the vehicle conveying the 50 malnourished cows, last week, broke down while on its way to Rivers State.
It took five days, The Guardian gathered, to fix the vehicle and while this lasted the cattle dealers ran out of feeds for the cows The animal became weak and 27 out of 50 of them died, while the four that went into coma were revived by a veterinary doctor.
It was further discovered that when the driver and two other persons conveying the cattle noticed the animals had died, they still proceeded with the journey with the intention to sell the dead cows at cheaper rates to willing buyers. However, things did not go as planned, as the intelligence team set up by Chairman, Ikwere Local Government Area of the State, Samuel Nwanosike, to monitor criminal activities and ensure security in the council intercepted them.
The surveillance team according to Nwanosike, was monitoring an operation at about 6:10 am on the said day when they noticed suspicious movements by the driver and two others conveying the cows.
According to Nwanosike, the team immediately swung into action, forced the dealers to stop and contacted him (the council boss). Nwanosike said, he immediately alerted the state government and a veterinary doctor was sent from the State Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture, while the abattoirs were locked to ensure no dead cow was sold to the public.
Nwanosike argued that cows taken to any state should be healthy and fit for a long journey, adding that good and spacious trucks should also be used for such journey. He stressed that the animals died because they were packed in a small truck.
“Congestion of the cows contributed to their death. The cows were packed into a small truck because the owners wanted to save cost,” he said.
The council boss assured that the surveillance team would continue to monitor such activities among other criminal acts to ensure safety of life and property.
He said: “They gave us go ahead to burry the dead cows and we have done that based on the state environmental sanitation laws.”
Nwanosike told The Guardian that three suspects were arrested in connection with the cows and that it is within the state government’s discretion to either prosecute or free them.
Meanwhile, the Veterinary Director, in charge of Veterinary Department of the State Ministry of Agriculture, who examined the cows, said there was no trace of diseases in them, saying they died of malnutrition and fatigue.
The vet in charge of one of the abattoirs disclosed that it is an old practice for cow dealers to bring malnourished cows to the state. According to her, there have been different complaints about this development, but regrettably it has continued unabated.
Condemning the cow dealers’ sharp practices, Dr. Charles Nnadi Uzopuo, disclosed that Rivers State has only two veterinary doctors working with its Ministry of Agriculture, saying that the number is extremely insufficient. According to him, it would not be out of place to have a veterinary doctor in every abattoir in the state for effective conduct of anti-modem and post-modem test on animals before they are killed and distributed to the public.
His words: “In Rivers, we do not have enough manpower in the Ministry of Agriculture; only two veterinary doctors are there, as such most of the abattoirs do not have professionals conducting test on the animals. Most of the test are done by none veterinary doctors who do not have the capacity to detect diseases that are easily transferrable from animal to man. ”
Uzopuo argued that the implication of lack of professionals to carry out the necessary tests would expose beef consumers to diseases that could lead to death. He stressed that lives would be saved if professionals take charge of the abattoirs and called on government to engage more hands in the abattoirs.
The State Commissioner for Agriculture, Charles Nwogu, failed to respond to calls and text messages, even after he promised to speak with The Guardian at the end of the State Executive Council meeting on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill Chike, dismissed reports that the cows were poisoned with the aim of depopulating voters.
A medical expert and Chief Medical Director of Oasis Children Specialist Hospital, Port Harcourt, Dr. Appollus Josiah, said illness including viral hemorrhagic fevers such as lassa and Ebola could easily be contacted from dead cows or animals.
However, the president of National Butchers Union of Nigeria, Mr. John Osamede Adun, said, the union does not sell dead cows in the market. According to him, the cows died of stress and malnutrition and whenever such happens cattle dealers usually give them out as they are not fit for sale.”
The spokesman of the Rivers State Police Command, Nnamdi Omoni, when contacted in connection of those arrested said he was busy and failed to reply text messages sent to him.