Sokoto — Over a week after the mysterious death of about 1,600 sheep in Tungan Madugu village of Gwadabawa local government area of Sokoto State, residents of the community say they are still afraid of eating meat.
"We did not buy meat within those days that the animals were dying and even now, we are afraid of buying meat," one local resident told Daily Trust.
The animals, which were said to belong to Fulani nomads from Niger Republic, reportedly died after drinking from an open well at Gidan Jihadi viallge in neighbouring Kware local government area.
Village head of Tungan Madugu, Mal. Mohammed Lawali, said when the herdsmen, about six in number, came with their herds into the village, they noticed that the animals were getting ailing and dying. Upon inquiry, the herdsmen said they suspected the water the animals drank at a village before coming there.
"The Fulanis gave the dying sheep tins of liquid milk as first aid but to no avail," the village head said adding that about 600 herds still alive were quickly immunized by health authorities.
He said the animals' carcasses were burnt to prevent dubious persons from selling the meet to unsuspecting consumers. The villagers said there was no reported case of consumption of the animals in question.
Mal Lawali alleged that when the herdsmen saw that the sheep were dying, they attempted to sell them off at give away prices, but leaders of the community drew the attention of the public to the fact that the animals were sick and therefore not fit for human consumption.
"Some people came to buy the sick animals but we made it clear that they were not okay for consumption," he said, adding that "the villagers monitored the situation and ensured that the animals were not sold."
At Gidan Jihadi village where the well at the centre of controversy is situated, the village head Shehu Magaji said the well in question had been abandoned for sometimes.
"We have other wells which we are using," he said.
Magaji said the well was actually covered but the herdsmen opened it when they wanted to fetch water for their herds.
"We later saw a dead fowl in the well," he stated.
During Daily Trust visit to the Tungan Madugu village there were still tales and signs of the dead animals. Our reporter saw parts of those that were burnt.
Permanent Secretary Sokoto State Ministry of Animal Health, Alhaji Shehu Bawa, said samples of the death animals and water from the well were taken for examination in the state and at the National Veterinary Research Institute Vom, Plateau State.
According to him, immediately the incident happened, staffs of the ministry were mobilized to the abattoir and livestock market to create awareness and warned butchers against buying such animals.
The permanent secretary said some people were positioned at the entry points of Kware and Gwadabawa local government areas, and that with the assistance of men of the Nigeria Civil Defence Corps, some affected animals being brought in were intercepted and confiscated. He said the affected herdsmen were assured that government assistance was underway.
Alhaji Bawa said the state government had already provided vaccines and other supporting medications to curb the spread of the diseases.
He added that authorities of the local governments affected have made their efforts to treat the animals and spread chemicals in the areas where the animals died and those places they were burnt and buried. He said the ministry is also making arrangement to fumigate the area.
During Daily Trust visit to the village where the animal died there were remains of dead animals, burnt parts, tins of milk which the herdsman gave them as first aid in the frantic effort to save their animals. Flies were also seen hovering around shrubs in the areas the animals were buried even as a strong stench rent the vicinity.