Unease in Rivers over rumour of dead cows


• It’s Not True, Say Health Commissioner, Police

There was widespread apprehension in Rivers State, yesterday, following reports that about 27 dead cows were smuggled into the state from the north by some youths working for some politicians to reduce the voting population.

Prompted by that report, most residents shunned cow meat as the claim continued to trend on social media, especially with emphasis that the dead animals were poisoned.When The Guardian visited some markets across the state, including Rumokoro, Mile three and Mile one markets, there was low patronage of meat, as residents avoided passing through the meat lanes, while meat sellers groaned.

It was gathered that the Chairman of Ikwerre local government council, Mr. Samuel Nwanosike, after receiving the alert promptly contacted the Igwuruta Division of the Nigerian Police for immediate investigation and arrest of suspects. However, the State Police Command and Ministry of Health have denied the claims, describing the report as mere rumour, even as they urged the public to disregard it.

The state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill  Chike, told The Guardian that the Ministry decided to embark on proper investigations immediately it became aware of the incident.He said: “What happened was that the animals came from a far place and the vehicle that brought them had mechanical challenges, so with time spent to repair the vehicle, some of the animals died.”

The Health Commissioner disclosed that the dead animals have been evacuated and urged the public to go about their normal activities and usual shopping without panic, stressing that there is no cause for alarm.

He added that his team is working with the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that all meats sold in the market is safe.Similarly, the spokesman of the State Police Command, Nnamdi Omoni, said, only 16 cows died on the road, as against 27 claimed by the report, adding that investigations are still on and assured that findings would be made available to the public immediately it is concluded.

Also, Dr. Ekanam, Director Primary Health Care and Dr. Joy Wohioka, who is in charge of Health Care, Ikwerre Local government area of the state have joined hands with the police for proper investigation.It was alleged that over four cows among the dead had been distributed and sold for public consumption before the arrival of security agents.

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