By Wole Mosadoni
MINNAâ€”They have been in the business of adulterating palm oil for over five years. Their target is how to make quick money from the adulteration not minding the consequences it would have on numerous consumers.
However, nemesis eventually caught up with the syndicate in Minna, Niger State when the State Police Command, acting on a tip off, swooped on their â€œdepotâ€ at Kaswan-Gawari (Gawari market) just behind the Minna Central market last week where the sellers were met in the act of diluting the original oil with reddish chemical powder called â€œmeteâ€ for colouring the oil.
Worse still, they add large quantity of water and powdered chemical to increase the quantity of the oil and make it more reddish after which they sell to unsuspecting consumers.
During the raid, no fewer than fifty litres of Jerry cans and drums used for mixing were seized by the police while ten suspects were arrested. Others took to their heels as soon as they sighted the police.
The State Police Commissioner, Mr. Michael Zuokumor who spoke with reporters on the issue said the perpetrators have confessed to the police that the red substance is mixed with water in order to increase the quantity and improve the reddish colour of the oil but claimed that the chemical does not kill or have any negative effect on the consumers since they (the perpetrators) also consume it and it has no effect on them.
One of the suspects, Jude Okafor who is also the deputy chairman, Palm oil marketers Association in Niger State told Crime Alert that he was aware of the adulteration but pointed out that he has warned them on several occasions to desist from the criminal act. Stating that he has never been involved in the act, he however, could not say why he failed to report to the police or any appropriate authorities.
Another suspect, Adolphus Ajuo made people reel with laughter when he stated that, â€œWe adulterated the oil because, some are red and some are white and we have to make them more red.â€
When asked whether there is any white palm oil, Ajuo insisted, â€œThere is the agric white oil and we add the chemical to make it red.â€
He said the chemical was â€œimportedâ€ from Aba and that he was not aware that it is harmful to the body because all they are after is to sell the oil to consumers.
The State Police boss who assured that investigations were still in progress over the issue stated that machineries have been put in place to ensure the immediate arrest of the chairman of the Association and others on the run.
He said the exhibits recovered and the suspects will be handed over to NAFDAC for further investigations after police preliminary investigations.
Contacted, the NAFDAC Unit Head in Minna, Mr. Dadi N.M. told Crime Alert that the case has already been transferred to his office for further investigation.
He assured that the already adulterated oil and the chemical will be transferred to the Agency laboratory in Lagos for thorough test to determine the danger inherent in the consumption.
Those arrested were Christopher Josiah, Adolphus Ajuo, Agbo Tochukwu, James Ejiofoh, Paul Ogochukwu, Jude Okafor (vice chairman) Reuben Onyeiben, Joseph Ugwu and two females Julian Ochor and Amarachi Okoro.