The Director General of the Consumer Protection Council, Babatunde Irukera, says the council has apprehended eight persons for allegedly dealing in substandard rice in Akwa Ibom.
Irukera, at a news conference in Uyo on Friday, said that the council also confiscated over 1,000 bags of substandard rice worth millions of Naira.
He said that the suspects were arrested following intelligence gathering by the surveillance unit of the council with the aim of ensuring consumer safety.
The DG said that the arrested persons belonged to a gang of people that allegedly engaged in re-bagging substandard rice to sell to unsuspecting consumers.
Irukera said that those arrested would soon be prosecuted to serve as deterrent to others.
He said: “This is the third of all the location of our sting operation in Uyo in respect of putting away substandard product from the market, specifically rice.
“What we have found here is very sad, a proposed warehouse, but nothing here than to re-bag substandard rice.
“By our count, we have apprehended in today’s operation about eight persons and confiscated over 1,000 bags of rice, excluding those that are being re-bagged.
“All the perpetrators of this act would be prosecuted, not only prosecuting them, but I will advocate for our laws to be respected and sufficient provision for the Customs’ Act for the forfeiture of the building used for this illegality.”
The director general assured consumers that the monitoring exercise would be routine, to get rid of substandard products from the market and protect the health of consumers.
He urged consumers to be careful where they make their purchase, adding that when they were in doubt, they should speak out.
Irukera said: “Consumers need to complain when things go wrong. If somebody buys something that is not good, the person should complain. If you do not like something, say something.”
One of the operatives of the shop in Udoma Street in Etuk Market, Kanayo Jackson, said that they had been in the business since 2013.
He said that most of the people selling rice in Akpan Andem and Itam Market in Uyo metropolis was doing the same business.
Jackson said: “It is not only in Udoma Street that people are re-bagging rice, there are many other places like Akpan Andem and Itam market.
“I am only working for my brother, Jackson. We buy the empty bags and re-bag the rice for sale.”
He told newsmen that security operatives had been coming to the shop before, but their boss used to settle them.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the council also sealed a popular rice selling depot, known as ‘Rice City’ along IBB Way in Uyo for re-bagging substandard rice.