By Okon Bassey in Uyo
The Consumer Protection Council (CPC) yesterday impounded more than 1000 bags of fake rice in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital. Ten persons were also arrested in connection with the crime.
Also four shops were sealed while sealing machines, sowing machines, generators and other appliances used in the processing of the sub-standard rice were seized.
The Director-General of CPC, Mr. Babatunde Irukera, who led the raid of the fake rice factories in the metropolis was accompanied by officials of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Police.
The invasion or clampdown of sub-standard rice distributors in the state capital took the CPC team to the Nyong Essien Street where greater seizure was recorded and the Rice City shop on No. 52 IBB Way opposite Information Drive, Uyo.
The sub-standard rice were seen in the factory being re-packaged into bags which had the inscription of Mama Gold, Stallion, Habiba White, Caprice, Royal Stallion, Happy family and La Gueen among others.
Nyong Essien which used to be one of the bubbly streets in the metropolis was very quiet as the raid and sealing of shops in the market took the traders by surprise.
The Rice City shop was equally sealed and the sign post destroyed.
Bags of rotten rice were seen at the warehouse on Esuene Street, managed by the owner of the Rice City whose name could not be ascertained at press time.
The factory was sealed and machines used in the processing of the sub-standard rice were also seized.
Speaking with journalists, the Director General of CPC described the activities of the sub-standard distributors of rice in the state as very saddening, vowing that those arrested would face the full weight of the law.
“It is a successful operation. It is also eye opener that there is still a lot of thing to be done; the customs and other regulators; law enforcement persons will stop some of these things from coming into the country.
“The CPC got credible intelligent that rice is being re-bagged and sole in the market. Our greatest concern was the quality of the rice.
“The rice that we have seized today (Friday) that is how it started and ended up in bags, people homes and restaurants”, Irukera noted.
Not only will the perpetrators of this act be prosecuted, he advocated for a law promulgation with sufficient provision in the custom act for forfeiture of property used in perpetration of crime of this nature.
He advised consumers to be very careful in what they buy, stressing that if they were in doubt, they should check it out, adding, “but more importantly, we have to create a culture of feedback. Consumers need to complain when things go wrong or provide information things go wrong.”
He also recommended for a standing taskforce for operation by the CPC , even as he hinted that there was also plan to raid shops for other fake products.