By Okon BasseyÂ in Uyo
The proprietor of Rice City in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital, Mr. Eno Effiong has threated to drag the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) to court over the alleged seizure of 1, 500 bags of rice worth aboutÂ Â N25million for purportedly being fake and sub-standard.
Already, Effiong who is a retired Permanent Secretary in the Akwa Ibom State Civil Service has sought legal aid from the former Attorney-General of the State, Mr. Victor Iyanam over the prosecution of the CPC for damages.
At a press briefing in Uyo, the legal adviser to the Rice City firm demanded unreserved apology and return of the 1,500 bags of rice that the CPC allegedly seized and carted away from their retail outlet on 52 IBB Way and the warehouse on Esuene State within the metropolis.
Iyanam explained that the action of the CPC was at variance with fair trade, adding that their action had caused the organisation embarrassment and untold harms in its business dealing.
He noted that on Sunday, June 24, 2018, at about 10 am, some men who claimed to come from CPC headquarters, Abuja stormed the shop and warehouse of his client, ransacked and destroyed rice stacked in bags and rested on strong wooden platforms as required by experience and best practices in the rice trade.
The lawyer who questioned the justification of the CPC officials to break into the shop on Sunday when most people had gone to different churches in the state capital frowned that during the raid, apart from removing the 1,500 bags of rice, valued at N25 million, duplicate receipts of transactions with customers as well as cash from drawers in the office were removed.
Also, Iyanam said an innocent staff of the company was also arrested and detained for four days without justification and cause by the CPC when they visited the shop.
He further observed that the men who claim to have come from the national headquarters of the CPC in Abuja could not properly identify themselves as they had no identity cards nor the three trucks used to remove the rice had any registration plate number.
Iyanam fumed that the place to which the bags of rice were carted to remains unknown, wondering what will happen to the whole quantity of rice forcefully removed from the shops.
â€œAt the end of the rampage, the men claiming to be from the CPC carted away 1500 of rice, mainly of the local variants. They came in three trucks; none was registered and can therefore not be identified. The place to which the bags of rice were carted remains unknown.
â€œWe are dismayed that the conduct of the men of the CPC negates the courteous and humane manner the CPC was always expected to act. By the provision of Rules 10 and 11 of the Consumer Protection (Products and Services Monitoring and Registration) Regulations 2005, the CPC would be expected to issue some notice before moving against any marketerâ€, he said.
Accordingly, he called on the State Police Command to come to the aid of Rice City and to ensure the return of her products as their action was illegal.
The Director-General of CPC, Mr. Babatunde Irukera had on Friday 22nd June, 2018 led officials of the CPC, Customs and Police to rice outlet in the Uyo metropolis including shops on Nyong Essien streets and the Rice City on IBB Way where over 1,000 bags of rice alleged to have been either expired, fake or sub-standard were confiscated and 10 persons arrested.
Irukera who had spoken with journalists after the raid of the rice shops in the town noted that the products seized had been rebranded to make them look real and sold to members of the public as fresh and genuine rice, fit for human consumption.
In addition to the affected shops sealed, equipment or machines and empty bags of rice use for processing and re-bagging of the rice were also seized.