The Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) and its Federal Government regulatory counterpart, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control (NAFDAC) during a joint follow up inspection exercise to the sealed Ikorodu scrap yard and stumbled on more toxic substances and arrested four persons for evidence tampering.
LASEPA during an investigative visit to an alleged illegal scrap yard in Ikorodu, discovered an unlawful storage housing large volumes hazardous chemical, used medical consumables, electronic and electrical equipment waste recycling plant within a residential area and without relevant State permits. Or environmental controls.
The joint team, promptly halted all activities on the site by placing a LASEPA stop work order, leading to the arrest of four (4) allegedly involved persons during the joint follow up inspection exercise, two of whom were previously stationed security men of the yard. The men attempted to destroy previously established evidence by gaining access to the sealed site illegally (over the fence) and attempting to destroy evidence by arson.The facility Manager, FC Afara, and Alh. Kolawole Hamzat, the alleged owner of the expired drugs (paracetamol, ginseng multivitamin cleansers) were taken to custody by NAFDAC for further questioning.
The joint operation which had Mrs. Adedayo Adedayo, Director E- waste, (LASEPA) and Mr. Ado Kabiri, Principal Regulatory Officer, NAFDAC as team heads respectively, also discovered two scrap yards and three 40 feet containers, with two containing used medical consumables, while the other contained metal and E-waste materials.
Discoveries were rife, as the government officials combed through the facility and found large quantities of artificial sweeteners and flavors, biohazardous waste including used needles, syringes, nose masks disposable hand gloves and apparels amidst the squalor.
Reacting to the incident, the General Manager LASEPA, Dr Dolapo Fasawe described the exercise as a purposeful collaboration between sister agencies and commended the investigative team for exhibiting high level of professionalism in the management of the case.
She said “The two agencies involved are both saddled with the responsibilities of safeguarding public health and promoting quality of life in a sustainable environment. “These activities affect all of us, we all breathe the same air, drink the same water, and eat food from the same soil” Fasawe explained. “If these activities go on unchecked the State would be in a huge environmental and food safety crisis”, she buttressed.
Fasawe lamented that “it is indeed disheartening to note that the Lagos State residents, the security men in question, scaled the fence of a government sealed property and set on fire to the evidence unmindful or unaware of the potential and profound environmental effects such a release to air, land and water from such a fire would lead to or the potential for a large fire outbreak and resultant loss of life and property.”
“Any such operation stopped reduces the State’s mortality toll of 11,200 annually attributable to poor air and environmental quality” stressed Dr. Fasawe, who went into more detail on the cost to government of these illegal activities whilst promoting self-regulation and self-compliance as the long-term solution. The communities are enjoined to help us by reporting any activities you feel are not environmentally friendly.
“The aim of this exercise is not to witch hunt or hamper any business activities” revealed the General Manager. LASEPA aims to guide and regulate all business activities in the State, enjoining them to consider the people, planet, and profit collectively and as a mutually inclusive requirement, prior commencing any business activity or service. However, the State would be swift and decisive in safeguarding and upholding the rights of all Lagosians over and above perceived economic gain.
The LASEPA boss sounding a stern warning to other illegal operations in and around the residential area revealing that on visual inspection, houses 1 through 8 on Salvation Avenue at Idera, Owode-Onirin currently accommodates a church, office blocks, workshops, scrap yards and unapproved container depot. They need to relocate to areas earmarked for industrial and commercial activities within the State and we are willing to help facilitate the process with fair notice and with due consideration for the economic requirements.
“Breaking into sealed properties or removing government seals or tampering with evidence are all criminal acts that attract punishment, therefore, the full wrath of the law shall be served accordingly on the trespassers.” She reiterated.