THE Nigerian Federal government has warned its citizens on the consumption of cow skin, popularly known as ponmo, and bush meat.
The warning was contained in a statement the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) issued on Monday, June 12.
The Permanent Secretary, FMARD, Ernest Umakhihe, who signed the statement, said the warning became necessary due to the outbreak of the anthrax disease in neighbouring countries.
It can affect humans who come in contact with infected animals or products, and comes with flu-like symptoms, including cough, fever, and muscle aches.
According to the statement, the disease could lead to lung and respiratory issues, shock and death if not properly diagnosed.
Umakhihe noted that the disease had been detected in the northern part of Ghana, which borders Burkina Faso and Togo.
“The disease, which has claimed some lives, is a bacterial disease that affects both animals and man; that is, it is a zoonotic disease. Anthrax spores are naturally found in the soil and commonly affect domestic and wild animals.
“The general public is strongly advised to desist from the consumption of hides (ponmo), smoked meat and bush meat as they pose serious risks, until the situation is brought under control. Meanwhile, the public is urged to remain calm and vigilant as the Federal Government has resuscitated a Standing Committee on the Control of Anthrax in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development,” he noted.
He added that directors of veterinary services nationwide had been sensitised on the issue, as he urged border states in Nigeria to intensify vaccinations of animals.
“Infected animals cannot be vaccinated but animals at risk can be vaccinated. So in this present case, there is a need to intensify animal vaccinations along border states of Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, Oyo, Ogun and Lagos because of their proximity to Burkina Faso, Togo and Ghana. Other states of Nigeria are equally advised to join in the exercise,” he said.
The Permanent Secretary advised that infected animals be buried along with burial equipment.
In 2022, the Federal government had planned to ban ponmo as a means of reviving the leather industry in the country.
The Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Leather and Science Technology, Zaria, Muhammad Yakubu, said ponmo had no nutritional value and should be banned to revive the industry and boost the nation’s economy.
However, due to the fact that it is inexpensive, many Nigerians kicked against the proposed ban, and the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest Development Law, Onyekachi Ubani, threatened to sue the government over the issue.