Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Karu abattoir is one of the animal slaughtering centers in Abuja. It is a place meat consumers and traders gather on daily basis to trade on animals as well as raw meat for home consumption or commercial use.
The attention of a passer-by or stranger could be drawn to the abattoir, few meters away from the Nyanya-Keffi Expressway, by the stench that comes from the meat and animal fasces. Every morning, branded vehicles from all parts of Abuja, find their way to the location. Those who could not, perhaps, place order for home services.
From all indications, businesses worth millions of naira are transacted in the obviously “untidy and unhealthy” abattoir. A senior management official of the abattoir identified as Isiyaka, revealed that no fewer than 3,000 animals consisting mainly goats and cows are slaughtered in the abattoir daily. The figure goes up higher by 20 percent at weekends and double during festive periods.
He was concerned with the poor hygienic condition in which the animals are butchered, attributing it to poor attention being received from the FCT administration. The abattoir has, over the years, served as a place of convergence for young men who have mastered the act of trading and slaughtering animals.
Operators of the abattoir are mostly young men most of them unmarried. However, the demographic configuration has given rise to the increasing cases of social misdeeds at the place.
There are claims that prostitution ring and even drug peddlers now compete in the place. An investigation showed that both commercial sex workers and drug sellers are making as much brisk business as the meat sellers.
Even residents of the area are aware of happenings at the abattoirs and are not keep quiet. They told Daily Sun that the situation has become a threat to them too. Some claimed that they had to battle hard to protect their female children from being “misused” or “abused” by the operators, especially when they are high on drugs or other substances.
“We are battling everyday to save our children from commercial sex workers and drug addicts,” one Johnson Aluu lamented
Karu abattoir has taken a unique position, just like every other one elsewhere, in not only offering its primary services to customers but it has also become a melting pot for different kinds of people, some of whom have criminal records.
Investigations confirmed that most of the abattoir operators act under strong influence of drug, and that had made them stronger, emotionally, to come down hard on the animals with their sharp knives.
One Isiyaka confessed that the consumption of codeine and other hard drugs are some of the challenges of the meat market. He was unhappy that a section of the market has been taken over by drug addicts that include men and women. He was particularly concerned that the development gets worse at night in spite of several police interventions:
“The level of drug and other substance related activities in day time is child’s play when compared to night life here. Clean air is automatically replaced with smoke of Indian hemp. The recently banned codeine and other drugs are sold in the open.
“Prostitutes complete the circle. They converge from across neighbouring communities to service the sexual needs of the young men in the market. Officials of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and Police visit the market unannounced and make some arrests but that had not stop the consumption.
“Several individuals, religious and other non governmental organizations have held enlightenment class for us in the market, perhaps, to educate the people on the negative effect of drug consumption to their health but it all went to deaf ears as people return to their vomit shortly after the class.
“However, it is a continuous exercise that we would continue to do until expected result is achieved.”
A butcher, Nazif, appealed to government to assist the abattoir with water, power and most importantly, fix the only access road to the market:
“Trucks loaded with animals arrive this market on daily basis but it is always difficult for them to enter the market because of the bad road. Water is another great challenge that we have. We spend a lot money everyday to buy water and that has eaten deep into our pockets. These and more are the interventions we need from the FCT administration.”