By Chioma Onuegbu
Uyo – THE Consumers Protection Council (CPC) has apprehended eight persons and confiscated over 1000 re-bagged substandard rice worth millions of Naira in Akwa Ibom state.
Director General of the Council, Mr Babatunde Irukera, disclosed this while addressing newsmen after a sting operation in Uyo on Friday.
Irukera said that the operation organised in collaboration with the police and customs service followed credible intelligent gathered by the surveillance unit with the aim of ensuring consumer safety.
He said that all those that perpetrated the act of re-bagging substandard rice to sell to unsuspecting consumers would be prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to others.
“This is the third of all the location of our sting operation in Uyo in respect of putting away substandard product from the market, specifically rice.
“What we have found here is very sad, a proposed ware house, but nothing here than to re-bagged substandard rice.
“By our count, we have apprehended in today’s operation about eight persons and confiscated over 1000 bags of rice, excluding those that are being re-bagged.
“All the perpetrators of this act would be prosecuted, not only prosecuting them, but I will advocate for our laws to be respected and sufficient provision for the Customs’ Act for the forfeiture of the building used for this illegality,” Irukera said.
The director general assured consumers that the monitoring exercise would be routine, to get rid of substandard products from the market and protect the health of consumers.
He urged consumers to be careful where they make their purchases, adding that when they were in doubt they should speak out.
“Consumers need to complain when things go wrong. If somebody buys something that is not good the person should complain. If you don’t like something, say something.”
In an interview with newsmen, one of the operatives of the shop in Udoma street in Etuk Market, Mr Kanayo Jackson, from Ebonyi state said that they have been in the business since 2013.
He confessed that the re-bagging of substandard rice is perpetrated in other major Market within Uyo metropolis.
He said, “It is not only in Udoma Steet that people are re-bagging rice. There are other places like Akpan Andem and Itam market. I am no the owner of the business. I am only working for my brother, Mr Jackson.
“We buy the empty bags we use to re-bag the rice from Hausa people. What happens is the rice come through water, then we change it into another bag, but they are not expired rice”
He conversed to newsmen that security operatives have been coming to the shop before, but their boss used to settle the security operatives.
The CPC also sealed a rice warehouse along Esuene Street, off IBB Way and also the shop popularly called Rice City belonging to a major rice dealer within the state capital.
However the main operator of the place escaped before the enforcement team arrived the warehouse where expired rice is washed, dried and re-bagged for sale.