Residents of Rivers State, especially those residing in Port Harcourt and its environs shunned beef yesterday over rumour that poisoned cows were smuggled into Port Harcourt to ‘‘depopulate the state and the entire South-south ahead of the 2019 elections’’.
It took the intervention of the Rivers State Commissioner for Health and police authority to douse tension, it was gathered.
It was learnt that the Chairman of Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state, Mr. Samuel Nwanosike, the council where the alleged poisoned cows were taken to, contacted the Igwuruta Division of the Nigeria Police, for arrest and investigation.
However, the state police command and the Ministry of Health described the report as mere rumour and urged members of the public to disregard it.
The state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Princewill Chike, was quoted as saying that the ministry was aware of the incident and has carried out proper investigation into the incident.
He said, “what happened was that the animals came from a far place and the vehicle that brought them had challenges. So, with the time spent to repair the vehicle, some of the animals died”.
The Health Commissioner said there was no cause for alarm, adding that the dead animals had been evacuated.
He appealed to members of the public to go about their normal businesses.
He said his ministry was working with the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that meat sold in the state is safe for consumption.
In the same vein, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Nnamdi Omoni, said only 16 cows died on the road as against the 27 claimed by the report.
He said investigation into the matter was on-going.