The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control has closed down three factories that specialise in importing hides into the country for human consumption as ponmo.
The three factories are located on Unity Avenue, Ijagemo; Sosanya Street, Ijegun; and Adedayo Ayodeji Street, WAZOBIA Bus Stop, Abaranje, all in the Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State.
It was learnt that residents of Adedayo Ayodeji Street had protested the continued activities of one of the factories in their area, saying the stench from the hide processing was unbearable.
The Deputy Director, Intelligence Unit, NAFDAC, Mr Francis Ononiwu, on Tuesday said one Isaac Nwaebo was arrested because he tampered with the agency’s seal on his premises.
He added that when the NAFDAC officials visited Nwaebo’s business premises the previous week, they discovered large quantity of hide, but only saw a handful of the item during Tuesday’s inspection of the facility.
Ononiwu stated that the agency would do everything within its power to ensure that such activities were nipped in the bud.
“When we first called at Nwaebo’s factory last week, there was a large quantity of hides; it appeared as if he just had his delivery. We decided to lock up the place and placed our seal on the door. When we came to check the place on Tuesday, the hides had all been removed. He has to explain how and why the hides disappeared from the place we locked up.
“There are so many imported hide factories in Lagos. The hides are preserved with the same chemical used for embalming corpses. They are not safe for human consumption. We have been fighting them and we will get to them anywhere they are.”
Some residents of Unity Avenue, Ijagemo, alleged that water from their boreholes was no longer safe for drinking due to the underground pollution as a result of the activities the factory.
According to them, they are living in fear of an imminent outbreak of disease, noting that whenever the factory was discharging the imported hides from trucks, the entire community would be enveloped by an offensive odour as if from a morgue.
The residents, who pleaded not to be named, told our correspondent that the factory usually burns and washes the hides in the open environment, adding that they had now resorted to drinking sachet water and fetching water from other communities for other domestic uses.
In a letter to the Director-General, NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, dated May 17, 2019, the residents pleaded with the agency to visit the factory with a view to stopping its activities.
The letter titled, ‘Re: Imported hide factory operating on Unity Avenue, Ijagemo’, alleged that the product from the factory was poisonous to human health.
The letter read in part, “For your information, each time they are discharging the hides from the trucks, the whole community smells like a mortuary.
“They burn and wash the hides in the environment; therefore, the air we breathe in is poisoned, while the wastewater from the washed hide sinks into the aquifer to pollute our boreholes.”
It was gathered that activities in the factory had been suspended.