The Oyo State Government on Wednesday disclosed that a law suit has been instituted against operators of unlicensed and unauthorized abattoirs in Ibadan, saying that an interim order issued by the Oyo State High Court was executed by court Sheriffs on Friday June 22 to seal Bodija market abattoir, Aleshinloye marker abattoir, and several other such unlicensed abattoirs across Ibadan.
The Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural and Natural Resources, Prince Oyewole Oyewumi stated that the state government has constituted a taskforce to enforce the relocation of slaughter services by all butchers to the central abattoir at Amosun Village, Akinyele Ibadan to ensure quality, standards are met for commercial animal slaughter to protect citizens from obnoxious and unhealthy practices. According to him the taskforce comprises of Nigeria Police, Civil Defense Corps, DSS, Ministries of Environment, Agriculture, Physical Planning and Bureau of Investment Promotions with the responsibility to identify and enforce the provisions of the Meat Law of Oyo-State and other relevant laws.
The Agric Commissioner reiterated that the government decided to relocate the abattoirs in Ibadan to finally curb the unhealthy process of slaughtering of animals, offer of dead, sick and unwholesome animals in various markets, backyard slaughter slabs and many contraptions and make-shift slaughter houses in unhealthy environment with obnoxious practices, stressing that the State Government had in partnership with the private sector established a 3000 per day capacity mechanized slaughter facility at Amosun village, Akinyele L. G. as a viable and state of the art facility for all abattoir services within Ibadan.
The Commissioner said that the government regretted that after giving the Butchers 4 years to wind up and paying no taxes, the Ministry of Agriculture observed that some unscrupulous persons among the Butchers Union in Oyo State, rather than wind up, were in fact establishing new slaughter locations in unhygienic environment with no certification of government, no veterinary presence for inspection of animals for slaughter, nor approval of the said abattoirs by relevant authorities of government.
According to Prince Oyewumi , “For the last 5 years,the Ministry of Agriculture has engaged all stakeholders in a bid to ensure cooperation of all parties with the new initiative meant to assure the populace of the quality of cattle meat and other animals offered for sale in our markets. The Private sector Investment company, the OYSG, Local Government Councils/LCDAs in Ibadan, and the National Butchers Association (Oyo State chapter) held several meetings over the last 3 years leading to the final take-off of this initiative by the signing of a global Memorandum of Understanding between the parties by which the equity participation of all stakeholders were agreed, implementation plans accepted and commencement confirmed.
“Earlier in 2014, the OYSG had given all abattoirs operating in Ibadan a year to wind up their activities and relocate their slaughter operations to the new state of the Art abattoir at Amosun village. Since 2014, the state had ceased to collect due rates and taxes from all abattoirs in Ibadan, in order to encourage compliance and ensure that the operators wind up and comply with the meat law of Oyo State which makes it illegal for anyone to operate any slaughter slab, abattoir or slaughter house without the authority and license of government.
“Regrettably, even after giving the Butchers 4 years to wind up, paying no due taxes, the Ministry of Agriculture had observed that some unscrupulous persons among the Butchers Union in Oyo-State, rather than wind up, were in fact establishing new slaughter locations in unhygienic environment with no certification of government, no veterinary presence for inspection of animals for slaughter, nor approval of the said abattoirs by relevant authorities of government.
“This according to the Attorney-General occasioned the State filing the legal action against the operation of such illegally operating abattoirs being run without authorization and valid licenses. The Oyo State High Court had issued an interim order of injunction restraining the continued operations of all unlicensed and illegal abattoirs in Ibadan, and a mandatory order authorizing the Ministry of Agriculture to seal such places forthwith pending the determination of the suit filed.
“The said order was executed on Friday 22nd June by the Sherrif of the High Court who sealed up Bodija market abattoir, Aleshinloye marker abattoir, and several other such unlicensed abattoirs across Ibadan. However no sooner that the court Sherrif and police left some of these locations sealing them and pasting the court seal, orders and processes there, did the operators mobilize to breach and break the seal of court only to resume their illegal activities, particularly at the Bodija market,” Mr. Abimbola explained.
Mr. Abimbola said that at Tuesday’s proceedings, the court warned all parties to ensure they keep the peace and abide by the subsisting court order and avoid what can lead to contempt. The Attorney-General of Oyo State, Oluseun Abimbola Esq, leading a team of lawyers from the Ministry of Justice assured the court that government was only enforcing the provisions of the Oyo State Meat Law, Laws of Oyo State 2000 and extant laws of the state and no more, and encouraged lawyers for the faction of Butchers who were operating illegal abattoirs, to advise their clients accordingly to ensure they operate under the laws of the state.
“Some of the lawyers had indicated they were yet to be served with other processes in the matter which the Attorney-General undertook to ensure were served on the hitherto unknown persons, now showing their faces now. The court then by agreement of all counsel adjourned the matter to 24th October for pending applications,” he added.
The Commissioner for Justice warned all operators still surreptitiously illegally operating unlicensed abattoirs to stop such illegality immediately as the Ministry is poised to prosecute such offenders in criminal court, pointing out that operating an illegal abattoir is a crime under the Meat law of Oyo State.