The Civil Liberty Organisation (CLO) and Environmental Rights Action (ERA) have raised the alarm that dead cow meat is being sold across markets in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, saying that this development poses grave health challenges for residents.
Officials of CLO and ERA who visited the Swali, Etegwe and Opolo abattoirs, observed that there were no veterinary doctors to inspect and control activities of butchers on the premises, while calling on the state government to act fast as diseases such as Ebola and Coronavirus could be traced to untreated animals.
In a joint statement signed by Chief Nengi James, state chairman of CLO and Comrade Alagoa Morris, Project Officer of ERA , it was alleged that some livestock dealers brought dead cows into the state with the intention of butchering and selling them to the public.
It was further revealed that water facility at the Swali abattoir is not adequate to take care of the water needs of butchers, especially with regards to washing animal carcaess, thereby posing grave health challenges for meat consumers in the state.
The statement reads in part: “The use of water from the river to wash meat after slaughtering is unacceptable for health reasons. The slaughter house should be equipped with a specialized water supply system to effectively clean the operating area of blood and offal.
“The leadership of the CLO in Bayelsa and the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria embarked on a field monitoring exercise to abattoirs in the state to ascertain the conditions under which cows and other animals are slaughtered and sold to the public.
“The field visit was necessitated by the fact that unwholesome meat could be sold to unsuspecting members of the public, which may have life-threatening effect on humans. It became more pertinent when it was rumoured recently that some dead cows were brought into the state with the intention of butchering and selling them to the public.
“The visit to the abattoir is also very significant considering the fact that most deadly diseases such as Ebola are traced to animals. And unless they are checked in order to avoid unexpected losses from sick cows, goats, sheep, etc, some might go ahead to slaughter, especially unhealthy cows, goats, sheep and rams.
“Having gone round and interacted with the leadership of the main abattoirs in the state, observed the immediate environment, this joint press statement became necessary as there is need to reach out to the authorities for the needful. Our observations and findings during the visit are as follows:
“There are no veterinary doctors in the abattoirs. Cows are slaughtered without anyone representing the public health interest. The immediate environment needs upgrading. There is need to fence and secure the Yenagoa main abattoir environment [at Swali] and provide necessary facilities required in standard abattoirs anywhere.
“The water facility is not adequate to take care of the facility water needs, especially carcass washing. Using water from the rivers/creeks directly on the meat is unacceptable for health reasons. The slaughter house needs to be equipped with a specialized water supply system to effectively clean the operating area of blood and offal.”