Fracas at Rice Mill

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… Over Use of Fake Bushel

By Oginyi Ruth and Igwe Agnes

Three persons have been injured on Wednesday in a clash between the rice millers; suppliers and a group known as blanders that trade on the commodity in the mill over the use of fake bushels.

The pandemonium that erupted between the supplier and the group has left 3 persons wounded while other millers hurriedly shut their shops to prevent destructions of their commodity and other properties.

The group known as blanders is accused of using fake bushels to sell rice after buying from the main dealers and local rice farmers who come to mill their rice.

The new Executive of the mill had earlier barred the so called blanders from their activities pointing out that they are giving the rice mill bad name and have caused the mill to lose about 90% of their customers but the group refused to adhere to the instruction.

Consequently, the millers went on protest against the blanders.

One of the angry millers, Innocent Achi and Hon. Okpoto Friday, alleged the cups of rice in the bushels used by the blanders were incomplete, that their 25 kg bushel is fake.

Innocent Achi said, “The rice millers are tired of fraud. They said they did not want the blanders. Chinedu Eshi my brother became angry and started scattering any rice he sees because the millers said they will not sell rice to the blanders. If the normal bushel used in selling rice is 40 cups, their own will be 36 cups. They will minus 4 cups”.

Hon. Friday Okpoto said, “They make use of fraudulent bushels. They are known as blanders. The blanders operate this way. When they buy rice from us, they will use incomplete bushel to sell it, therefore after buying rice, the rice would be incomplete. The millers do not want those people.”

“Because we say we do not want them, the blanders went to the former chairman because he is the one that constituted them. When the millers said they will not sell rice to them, they will come to your shop and start forcing you to sell rice to them, even they scattered some millers’ rice”, Okpoto added.

Corroborating Achi’s submission, Okpoto added that the blanders were always supported by the past chairman, who, according to him, had made them grow wings.

He said, “They make use of fraudulent bushels. The bladders operate this way, when they buy rice from us, they will use incomplete bushel to resell it.”

“Therefore after customers buy rice from them, the rice would be incomplete. The millers don’t want those people. Because we say we do not want them, the blanders went to the former chairman who constituted them.”

“When the millers say they will not sell rice to them, they will come to your shop and start forcing you to sell rice to them even to the extent of scattering or even destroying millers’ rice.”

Another rice miller, Emeka Ogah, further alleged that his N200,000 was stolen in the midst of the crisis and accused a leadership member of the blander of masterminding the theft.

The leader of the blanders, Mrs. Ununu Nnenna, while speaking to journalists, accused the rice millers of beating up the blanders.

She said that the committee set up by the House of Assembly to intervene in the matter visited the Rice Mill, and directed them to go on with their businesses.

Nnenna said, “When the committee from the House of Assembly came here this morning, they directed that we should go ahead with our normal businesses, that from Monday they would address the problem. Immediately they left, the chairman said that they should not sell rice to these women.

“I am also a mill owner, but I wonder why other rice millers have refused to sell rice to them. So many people were injured. We want the government to come to our aid because immediately the committee members from the house left, they started beating the women, saying they would not sell rice to them”, she disclosed

Another blander, Nwali Nwakaego alleged that the millers don’t want them to survive.

She said “the rice millers do not want us to stay in the rice mill. For over one month, we’ve not been doing anything. We have approached them, begged them to forgive us, but they refused, that was why we went to the House of Assembly. Some of the rice millers said they should not sell rice to again, that is why we started rioting.”

“Since they say we will not sell our rice, we also will not allow them to sell their own as well. We are the one that poured their rice away. We are not using incomplete bushel. We cannot stay at home and allow hunger to kill our children. Our children no longer go to school and are hungry. We have asked them to bring the bushel they want us to use. Even we are ready to make use of the complete bushel.

Some of the customers who spoke to Newsmen, including Jacob Amuta, Angelina Ogodo and Ambrose Nwovuta, noted that the activities of the blanders had continued to take negative toll on both the quality and measurement of the commodity in the Mill.

Amuta said, “These people (the blanders) are very bad. Most of them mix good rice with bad ones and still sell it to us unknowingly at the price of the best quality; they even purposefully pour stones into rice to increase the quantity. Something should be done to curb their excesses.”

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