The Federal Government has described as illegal the trading, slaughtering, and consumption of donkey.
Government, through the Controller General of Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS), Director General, Vincent Isegbe, stated this yesterday at a press briefing in Abuja.
Isegbe, who explained that country was running out of donkeys, wondered why people would slaughter donkeys amidst chicken, goat, and cow meat.
“Donkey slaughter, donkey trade, donkey meat, donkey hide are illegal business. And that is why when we see, we confiscate or we destroy. Do not involve in anything that has to do with donkey.
“The genetic improvement of donkey breeders has a programme we just did for donkey improvement. The project is a tripartite project between the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service, the National Agricultural Production Research Institute in Zaria and those involved in donkey trading.
“Now, we need to have an understanding of where the answers are coming from. Hitherto, they were doing an illegal business.
“We had engagements with traditional rulers to draw the attention that the business is illegal.
“Government is against it and it is against the law. The people claimed they were not aware. They signed an undertaking with the Quarantine Service not to do it again.
“We sent advertisement on radio and television concerning the illegality of donkey trade. We need to tell the people how to breed the animals, build their houses and improve their genetic potential.
“Yes, some Chinese were arrested and investigations are going on but I do not want to go into the details so that I do not impede the investigations with the police. For now, let us be contented that arrest has been made and an investigation is going on.
The value is very expensive probably that is why people are going into it depending on the size of it it will sell between N30,000 to N50,000 and it can come down as low as N5,000.
“For the agro rangers, it is when you see that you can probably intercept and arrest. What we are saying now is that the population has gone down seriously that you cannot identify viable owners of donkeys as it is right now as I am talking to you.
“The ones we have here have been depleted terribly. I started my service in Maiduguri, then to Plateau because I came into Abuja.
“In those days when we go to fieldwork we see a lot of farmers who had donkeys carrying their fertilizers to their farms or transporting farm produce from the farm back to the house or using these donkeys to go and fetch water. But that system has been destroyed by the absence of donkeys.
“So, we that to exist in the economic arrangement of the rural population. It is not there. So the rural economy is suffering by the mere absence of donkeys that perform those strategic roles.
“The honourable minister is fully aware of this situation. He has given us 100% backing. Government will have to have control over it because it has become a national issue.
“Anything that affects the economy of the country, health of the nation, the government has interest in it. I wish I had pictures to show you slaughter lab, it is a zoo that can cause disease outbreaks.
“The prepared l it under unhygienic situation. The people who are slaughtering them are no protection for them. If you have a property that would jeopardise the health of your neighbour, the economy of this country, the government has a reason to call you to order.
“Yes, we are aware that in some parts of this country people eat donkey meat but I want to assure you that donkey meat is not the preferred food animal in the country.
“So, anybody who is eating donkey meat is eating it at his or her peril. But if I may ask; what is so special about donkey meat that you will not cow meat, sheep, goat, chicken and you go for donkey? It is ridiculous.
“Donkey meat is an inconsequential component of the donkey trade. They are just hiding to justify reason to slaughter it,” he said.