The National Task Force against the Importation of Small Arms, Ammunition and Fake Products in Nigeria (NATFORCE) has sealed two premises used in the production of fake cement in Rivers State.
The premises, located at Elelenwo in Obio/Akpor and Oyigbo in Oyigbo Local Government Areas of the state, are said to have been used in the illicit business of re-bagging of Dangote, Ibeto and Atlas cement products.
Head of Operations of NATFORCE in the state, Mr. Julius Ozuoma, said the task force had been investigating the illegal re-bagging of cement in the state and had the two premises under surveillance for more than two weeks before sealing them.
He said, “I disguised myself and was here a day before to order for 500 bags of cement. The man I saw here said I should give him 24 hours that the quantity would be met so that when I come the next day, I could clear it.
“When I came, I saw a trailer load of cement outside the gate of the premises. You can see that they must have driven it away in just 24 hours after I came here to place the order. It is a clear indication that these people are doing illegal business of spoiling people’s business here.”
A man who identified himself as Fred Bello, an indigene of Kogi State at the Elelenwo fake cement premises, however, denied that re-bagging of cement was going on at the premises, arguing that what they do there was the packaging of barite.
However, used empty bags of Dangote, Ibeto and Atlas cement were seen in the warehouse where other products suspected to be chemicals were heaped.
At Oyigbo area, over 50 rubber drums of chemicals were found at the premises while the warehouse was filled with more than 700 bags of cement already sealed and ready for dispatch.
On a close examination, it was discovered that after filling the bags with cement product, the bags were then sealed with gum.
Dangote, Ibeto and Atlas bags of cement were seen stacked in the warehouse but no administrative staff of the company was found there as they allegedly fled the premises on hearing that the NATFORCE was on its way to carry out an operation there.
About eight young men, mainly from the northern part of the country who claimed that they were cement loaders, were seen in the premises.
Speaking to journalists shortly after the operation, Ozuoma warned Nigerians to be careful of the products they buy, adding that the two sealed companies were involved in a business that would damage the integrity of genuine cement manufacturers.