Poisonous rice: Ebonyi Govt. reopens Rice Mill after sanitation

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Workers unload the World Rice Exhibition Ebonyi

Chukvumeka Opara

The government of Ebony on Thursday ordered the resumption of the Abakalik rice mills Limited two days after it was sealed after the alleged poisonous bags of rice that were found at the mill.

The Nigeria News Agency (NAN) reports that Governor David Umahi ordered the mill to be sealed on Tuesday after the State Environment Ministry received reports and subsequently discovered bags of rice supposedly labeled "not suitable for human consumption" inside the mill.

Dr. Kenneth Ugbala, the head of the inter-ministerial committee set up by the government to investigate this issue, told reporters at a press conference in Abakali on Thursday that the mill would immediately open.

Ugbal, who is also senior special assistant to Governor David Umaha (SSA) for internal security, said the mill was reopened because it was sanitized, poisonous products were confiscated and closed.

"The Committee, together with experts and security services, evacuated falsified products from the affected shops and, as a rule, disinfected the mill with security agencies that committed some arrests.

"The governor of the state reopened the mill to save innocent millers and buyers from unspeakable economic losses, and also because of the importance of the mill for the economic survival of the state.

"Ebony citizens and buyers from all over the country hereby guarantee that the suspicious products have been identified and evacuated so that they can freely process and buy rice from the mill," he said.

The head of the committee said that stores in which toxic products were confiscated will remain closed until the completion of all investigations.

"Citizens who purchased rice from the mill during a carefully studied period should submit such products to interested ministries of health, agriculture, the environment and others, for thorough screening.

"The government expresses serious disappointment with the management of the mill and subsequently suspends it for its inability to be an effective link between the mill and the government.

"Disappointment is deeper, because some of the stores where poisonous products are found allegedly belonged to some mill leaders.

"We will consult sufficiently to appoint a leadership for him," he said.

Ebony Rice
Ebony rice is ready for export

He denied the idea that the case was aimed at witch hunts, the chairman of Mill, Mr. Joseph Ununu for winning the election to the deputies.

Ununu disputes the local electoral environment of Abakaliki in the State House of Assembly under the Democratic People's Party (PDP).

"No member of the committee is a state district of Yunun or even local self-government, since the election of delegates is the party's goals.

"We also did not receive an official notification that at present his relatives were declared missing, as the leadership of the whole chain was suspended, and not only one person," Ugbala said.

Chief Donatus Nyoku, the state environmental commissioner, said that a total of 317 bags were confiscated from 10 stores at the plant during the screening of the commission.

"The two stores that were found to use non-standard weight measurements were also sealed next to those where toxic products were found until all the studies were completed.

Prof. Fidelis Okpat, deputy chief of staff of the governor, assured the public that any government official found guilty in this matter will be punished regardless of how high he is.

"This is a responsible government that will not lay down the lives of its citizens on the unhealthy commercial transactions of several people or groups," Okat said.

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