With the increasing number of seizures of frozen poultry products recorded on weekly basis by the Western Marine command of the Nigeria Customs Service, officers and men of the service have expressed fear of disease outbreak over the manner of its disposure. The recent increase in the seizure of frozen poultry products started with the launch of ‘Operation Hawk Descend’, – a special anti-smuggling operation against illegal importation of the products.
Last week alone, the command buried a total of 3,221 cartons of poultry products seized by its operatives along Badagry waterways.
The officers who pleaded anonymity because of fear of being queried said that if the command refused to change from its present form of disposing seized frozen poultry, it might experience disease outbreak.
The officers who at different occasions complained bitterly about the foul smell oozing from the command said they are no longer comfortable with how the frozen products were being buried. “We the officers and even people around here are not happy with the method of disposing these frozen products. One day we seized some of the frozen chicken and what they did was to dig the ground, pour them inside allow them rot, burn them, allow the burnt one to rot again and then bury them. The foul smell and the smoke we inhale when they are burning these chickens is affecting our health.
“In this modern age, we should not be seeing things like this. There are new methods they can use. They can import machines that will crush these products and just destroy them like that without having any harmful effect on others and us in the vicinity.
“It will not cost much to import these machines that will be crushing the seized poultry. The situation has been like that for a long time. We are in a new era now so we need change all over,” one of the officers said.
According to him, the Customs management may in no time be sued for air pollution if it fails to seek alternative and modern means of disposing seized poultry.
Controller of the command, Yusuf Umar had while briefing journalists said the command had so far recorded a total seizure of 5,083 cartons of the product since the launch of operation Hawk Descend with a Duty Paid Value of N31 million.
“As a result of the effectiveness of these measures, we have recorded several successes despite several battle attacks with smugglers. So far, we have recorded a total seizure of 5,083 cartons. I am also pleased to inform you that we again effected another major seizure on the 4th August 2015, during the wee hours; when a joint patrol team intercepted a boat loaded with 3,221 cartons of poultry products with a of the seized poultry at N19.3million,” he said.
However, with the matching order by the Comptroller-General of Customs on zero tolerance on smuggling of poultry product at the launch of the operation in Seme last month, worst may yet to come for the officers.
Improper disposal of poultry products has in recent times received much attention due to the potential effects on environmental pollution.
Investigation showed that improper disposal of poultry creates an offensive environment, yield foul odour, attract insects and pests, harbour potential disease sources and contribute to biological water contamination.
By Pita Ochai