By Itohan Abara-Laserian
Lagos, May 6, 2019
The Lagos State Ministry of Agriculture on Monday said that it had impounded about 30 tonnes of cow skin, popularly known as “Ponmo”, believed to be unsafe and unhealthy for consumption.
The Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Oluwatoyin Suarau, said in a statement by the Director of Public Affairs, Mr Tunbosun Ogunbanwo, that the cow skin processed for human consumption was worth N10 million.
According to him, a monitoring exercise took place at College Road in Igando area by the State Taskforce on Environment and Special Offenses Enforcement Unit and officers of the Nigeria Police Force where the factory was discovered.
Suarau, said that the raid carried out at the factory was based on a tip-off by concerned residents when they noticed the harmful smoke and the stench.
According to him, bonfire made with Jamaica rubber is confiscated in processing Ponmo that emits thick toxin smoke spreading across the complex and neighborhood is harmful to health.
“The factory and activities of the ‘Ponmo’ processors constitute a health risk not only to processors but to residents of adjoining communities. The health effect of burning rubber alone are enormous let alone when it is used to process human food.
“Besides, the source of the animal hides used for the ‘Ponmo’ needs to be ascertained to be sure it is fit for human consumption. Six persons connected with the poisonous ‘Ponmo’ were arrested in the raid and are in police custody.
“We are investigating the source of the poisonous ‘Ponmo, while the ministry has set up a monitoring and investigation committee headed by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Olayiwole Onasanya to get to the source of the poisonous ‘Ponmo’ and dislodge factories and illegal abattoirs where they are being processed.
“This committee will work with relevant government agencies to fish out any other illegal ‘Ponmo’ processing factory and illegal abattoir whose activities pose great danger to the public,” he said in the statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
The commissioner promised that the ministry and the state government would not rest on its oars to ensure hygienic meat and meat products for human consumption.
He warned illegal operators of abattoirs and ponmo processing factories to desist from the criminal activities before the law catches up with them because the state had zero tolerance for unwholesome foods vendors.
Suarau advised Lagosians to be vigilant and report suspected activities that could be harmful to human health and well being.