Operatives of Rapid Response Squad (RRS) of Lagos State Police Command and officials of the State Ministry of Health on Tuesday sealed off a fish depot for warehousing expired fish at Oba Akran Road, Ikeja, Lagos.
The depot, belonging to an Indian company, Premier Fish Product Limited, allegedly stored over N700 million worth of expired fish.
The company had been under surveillance for about two weeks, the police said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The lid was finally blown yesterday by the operatives of the Rapid Response Squad, following a tip off from sources that the company was revalidating the expiry dates of the stock,” the police statement said.
The Lagos State health officials on Tuesday inspected four cold rooms of the company containing several tons of fish before sealing off the company.
An environmental health officer, Kuforiji Adebayo, who led officials from the Ministry of Health, said the state government was sealing off the cold room to pave way for thorough laboratory test of the fish found in the cold room.
“This place is being sealed off for health analysis,” Mr. Adebayo said.
“The samples of the consignment being taken are for laboratory analysis. What we have met on ground physically is highly suggestive of the fact that there are questionable practices here as most of the fish has expired.
“What we have established here is a deceit and fraudulent activity,” he said.
Mr. Adebayo also said they discovered the company was revalidating the expiry date of its products.
”What we have seen indicates the condition of the fish was not okay before being frozen. That is why there are blood stains in the cartoon of the fish.
“If the labels are being changed now, the impression it leaves is that the labels might have been changed before the investigations,” he said.
The company management, however, insisted it was not revalidating its products’ expiry dates, adding that the products – which are to expire in March 2016 – would be sold off before expiry date.
According to the depot manager, Sabir Alli, the stickers that littered the corridor to the cold rooms fell off because of the shifting of fish cartoons to create space for accommodation of new consignment.
The spokesperson of Lagos State Police Command, Dolapo Badmus, confirmed the incident, saying a staff of the company alerted the police of the development.
“We got a call that they were revalidating the products yesterday and we decided to swing into action.
“This was confirmed by a lot of the stickers found in the lobby with March 2016 as expiry date,” said Ms. Badmus.