• Millers fight blanders for using Incomplete bushel to sell rice
  • Three injured in a free-for-all

By Angela Nwaeze Mbaocha

Abakaliki rice millers have raised their voices against alleged fraud being carried out by blanders who they accused of using incomplete bushel to sale rice to consumers after buying from them (millers) with complete measurements.

According to the rice millers, the blanders who buy from them in large quantity cheat the consumers by using incomplete bushels to sell rice which according to millers has seriously affected the sells as customers no longer come to the mill to buy the rice.

Following the fraudulent activities of the blanders, the millers resolved not to sell rice to them again. But that decision did not go down well with the blanders who confronted them (millers) on Wednesday and destroyed already packaged milled rice.

Seeing that about three persons have already been injured, the millers hurriedly shut their shops to prevent destructions of their rice and other properties.

One of the millers’ supporters, Innocent Achi, stated: “The rice millers said they are tired of fraud. They said they did not want the blanders because they are not being fair to the consumers.  Chinedu Eshi my brother became angry and started scattering any rice they see because the millers said they will not sell rice to the blanders again. If the normal bushel use in selling rice is 40 cups, their own will be 36. They will minus four cups.  It is what the rice millers want that we are supporting”.

On his part, a miller, Friday Okpoto said “the problem is that they are people that are making use of incomplete tin to sell rice. They make use of fraudulent bushels. They are known as blanders. The bladders 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 bladders went to the former Chairman because he is the one that constituted them and reported the matter. When the millers said they will not sell rice to them, they will come to our shop and start forcing you to sell rice to them, even they scattered millers rice. The rice millers are begging the government to intervene”.

Meanwhile, one of the blanders, Nwali Nwakaego, alleged that the millers don’t want them to survive. “The rice millers do not want us to stay in the rice mill.

For over one month, we do not have anything doing. We have approached them begging them to forgive us, but they refused that was why we went to the house of assembly. Some of the rice millers said they would not sell rice to us 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 ones 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. We are even ready to make use of the savage.

On her part, Chairman of the blanders, Mrs. Ununu Nenna, said despite the intervention by the state House of Assembly committee set up to look into the matter which ordered that they should be allowed to do their businesses in the mill, the millers have refused to sell rice to them forcing them to resist it.

“When the committee from the house of Assembly came, it 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, that the house of Assembly does not have power to intervene on the matters concerning the millers.

“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 and others wounded. We want the government to come to our aid because immediately the committee members from the house left, they started beating the women, saying that they would not sell rice to them”, she claimed.

Meanwhile, the blanders numbering about 50 from Abakaliki Rice Mill, on Monday August, 5 2019 protested to the State Assembly over what they alleged to be discrimination and maltreatment melted on them by the new caretaker chairman of Abakaliki Rice Mill, Mr. Samuel Ogodo.

The women who vowed not to end their protest until their demands were met decried countless humiliation and maltreatment from their present boss.

 Speaking with one of their leaders, Mrs. Ofoke Patricia, she alleged that for two months now, the caretaker Chairman of the Rice Mill, Mr. Samuel Ogodo and his men chased them out of the mill and has stopped them from working and doing their legitimate businesses in the area.

The protesting women further alleged that Mr. Ogodo asked them to settle him with fifty thousand naira per person before he can allow them stay in the Rice mill.

Another Woman, Mrs. Juliet Nwaji, added that they could no longer bear the maltreatment, discrimination and extortion, hence, their resolve to stage the peaceful protest with the aim of drawing the lawmakers and the State government’s attention to their plights.

They therefore demanded that the State government compel the acting chairman to allow them do their businesses at the Rice Mill without harassment and also appealed to the government to checkmate the excesses of the Rice Mill chairman.

On his part,  the Abakaliki Rice mill Industrial Owners Association, Chief Samuel Ogodo debunked the alleged vacate order as purportedly reported by blanders during their peaceful protest at the entrance gate of Ebonyi State House of Assembly.

 Mr. Ogodo said that the activities of blander women have brought disrepute to the Ricemill industry and the state in general as they manufactured their own magic bushel which is not accurate, thereby reducing it from 25kg to 20kg.

He said the blanders are cheating the consumers by depriving them of 5kg, stating that their consistent illegal actions have scared customers away from the Ricemill industry.

 He said that the Rice mill industry has standard unit measurement and blander women have bluntly refused to abide by the constitution.

 He maintain that he would leave no stone unturned in repositioning the Ricemill industry by ensuing sanity and standard of operations in the industry to bring it back to it glory.

Reacting to the recent development, the former Chairman of the Ricemill industry, Hon. Joseph Ununu who is now an Honourable Member in Ebonyi State House of Assembly representing Abakaliki South Constituency, frowned at the action of the Caretaker Chairman, Mr. Samuel Ogodo, saying it’s a taboo to ask the blander women to vacate the Ricemill industry premises with out recourse and human face.

He claimed that the blander women have been operating since the Ricemill industry was established in 1957 and requested that the blander women should be allowed to remain where they are.

 He commended the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Francis Nwifuru for constituting a five man Committee to handle the matter for possible lasting peace in the Ricemill industry.


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