A poultry firm based in Ibadan, Best Line Hatchery has cried out over the loss of birds worth N50 million, owing to the defiance of security operatives enforcing the lockdown directive at border points of entry.
The firm in a statement on Tuesday expressed deep grief over the deaths of several Day-Old-Chicks which were been conveyed to other parts of the country.
The products, which were been transported in no less than 20 buses, were said to have been hindered from moving by security agents at the Podo area of Ibadan on Monday evening, despite having the rights of passage required.
Speaking to newsmen over the loss, Managing Director of the firm, Reverend Tunde Owolabi who decried the maltreatment by policemen and other security operatives berated the attitude of the lockdown enforcers, which resulted in the deaths of the chicks.
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President Muhammadu Buhari in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19 pandemic had issued a lockdown directive in some states but had also insisted that those providing essential services were to be allowed unrestricted movements across the country.
In similar vein, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture had instated a Joint Task Technical team to facilitate the unrestricted movement of farmers and their essentials – food, livestock, and agricultural inputs.
According to Owolabi, the unreserved rights by agricultural practitioners have been breached by security agents, who had returned the firm’s products on the claims of a new directive by the government.
“We trust God that with all effort that is on ground, COVID-19 should be a thing of the past very soon. But by the time this problem is over, there is going to be a looming danger of scarcity of farm and poultry produce
“Hunger problem is far far greater in dimension compared to the danger COVID-19 poses. The number of birds that are involved today is alarming
“We have about 20 buses that are affected today and in each of these, we have about 8,000 to 10,000 birds. The monetary value is huge. We are talking about over N50 million worth of birds.
“It is rather unfortunate that these our birds were returned last night. Birds are meant to travel at the cool hours of the day and that is the reason you see us travel in the night
“Our drivers have the passes. As you can see with me here, we have all the documents from the Poultry Association of Nigeria and from the Ministry of Agriculture. Each of the drivers carries the papers,” Owolabi explained.
The MD further stated that he was in disbelief over the claims of the policemen, as the Federal Government had granted rights of passage to those carrying agricultural produce, as part of essential service providers.
He, however, call on the government at all levels to ensure that officials of the lockdown enforcement allow unrestricted movement of agricultural products, in order to effectively sustain food security and the fight against COVID-19.
“We are appealing to the Federal Government, we are appealing to the state government to continuously give us free passage for all our drivers,” he said.
Chairman of the Day Old Chicks Merchant Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Asimiyu Oyetunde, who also spoke to newsmen, said that the firm had all valid documents issued by the association as well as the Federal and State Ministry of Agriculture, which granted them the right to dispense their essential services.
Oyetunde said the attitude of the security agents had resulted in the loss of the chicks, which he maintained were over N50 million, despite possessing all necessary papers.
Wading in, the Chairman of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN) Oyo state chapter, Mr Gbemisoye Agboola expressed sadness over the huge loss incurred by the firm. He said the security operatives acted contrary to the directive of the government.
Meanwhile, the Oyo State Police Public Relations Officer, Gbenga Fadeyi informed the press that he was yet to be briefed of the situation, adding that due investigations would be carried out on the matter once briefed.
There had been cries by farmers and agricultural producers, in previous weeks, of alleged mistreatments by enforcers of the lockdown restrictions across the country, despite the president’s order on essential services.