There was pandemonium on Saturday and Sunday near the Trailer Park at Ebubu in Eleme Local Government Area of Rivers when thousands of youths, women and children descended on a burrow pit; dug out and took home several tonnes of chicken condemned and buried by men of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
The scavengers came with shovels, pans, basins and buckets to cart their loot home.
The Customs had on Friday dug out a canal there and buried thousands of cartons of frozen poultry they seized at the Onne Ports. Witnesses said the chicken were brought in six containers, emptied and buried before the customs party left.
But news soon spread abroad about the development and very early on Saturday, the human carrions came calling. With no security at the site, they dug and dug and opened up the pit.
A visit to many homes around the area on Sunday revealed serious barbecuing going on as people roasted and dried the chicken they exhumed from the burial site.
In one, home a full-length refrigerator was seen stocked full of roasted chicken, while the hosts invited guest to a sumptuous pick.
But the development has sent an alarm across Eleme and neighbouring communities about the danger of eating the condemned chicken.
The Archbishop of the popular Commonwealth Covenant Church, the Most Rev. Moses Kattey, had to put out a message to the people on Sunday warning people of eating the condemned poultry.
“A very mighty hole was dug and trailers of carton of chicken were buried by government for health reasons. People have gone there with shovels to exhume the meat to sell. Warn your people please not to buy frozen or fried chicken next two weeks. They are poisonous. This happened here in Eleme but can be sold anywhere,” the Reverend said.
A local resident, Friday Lewa Goya said, “We saw scores of people in Eleme/Onne axis (just before Trailer Park) carrying raffia bags full of exhumed ‘frozen’ chickens and turkey. The Nigeria Customs buried them yesterday after seizing them from the importers.”
A few other residents said there was no health hazard with the poultry.
Lasbrey Iriaka said the poultry was confiscated not because it had expired or because it posed health hazard.
“It was seized from importers because it is contraband. The customs men even diverted one container themselves. So who is fooling whom?” he queried.