Inside Abuja’s abattoir of epidemics


…where sewage is used as water

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Uba Group


There are strong indications that the lives of over 1.4 million people living in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, may be gravely endangered on health grounds as residents allege that butchers in Deidei, the main abbattoir, wash their meat with sewage. Sewage is a term used for wastewater that often contains faeces, urine, laundry waste and industrial effluent.

A week-long investigation by The Point confirmed that butchers at the abbattoir were actually using contaminated water from a nearby river to wash and prepare their meat for sale.

The residents, who spoke with our correspondents, said they had to cry out to the authorities concerned to investigate the matter, considering the health consequences of consuming such meat even in the face of ceaseless environmental pollution acts precipitated by the butchers in the market.

According to The Point’s findings, although the abattoir was built with the provision of three boreholes to meet the high water demand for its operations, the boreholes often run dry, especially during the dry season.

Consequently, the butchers are forced to resort to using water from the dirty nearby river to wash the meat, after it has been burnt with disused tyres.

Investigations further revealed that the river, which flows from a nearby village, is also served by tributaries that carry faeces, urine, dirt and some industrial effluents that stream in ceaselessly.

A 45-year-old female civil servant said her maid had caught butchers about three times using water from the dirty river. “My maid confirmed that they were using the water from the river. This is a river, which carries faeces and all sorts of dirts,” the lady, who asked not to be named for fear of being victimised, said angrily.

Another Abuja resident, a car dealer, disclosed that his information was first hand, having caught some butchers in the act and queried them severally. “The authorities should come to our rescue before everyone in Abuja dies of the looming epidemic,” he said.

The Point particularly confirmed that some nearby residents living in slums, who had no toilet facilities, had converted the river to their septic tank and often threw faeces into it.

Two of the locals, Muhammed Yahaya and Chuks Orlu, who spoke with our correspondent, sneered at the concern over the health hazard posed by the dumping of faeces into the Deidei abattoir’s river.

“Why can’t the government give us public toilet? Where do they want us to defecate? We can’t say because there is abattoir here, we will fail to answer the call of nature,” Yahaya said, giggling.

Efforts to see the Manager of the abattoir for his comments proved abortive, even though one of The Point’s correspondents visited his office more than three times. However, a butcher in the market, who sought anonymity, told our correspondent that the abattoir was divided into two phases, run by two different operators and owners.

According to him, the new abattoir is being run by a private operator employed by the Federal Capital Territory administration, while the old one is owned and run by a village head, near the abattoir. He confirmed that the use of the ‘sewage’ was true, but added that goat butchers were the main culprits.

He said the burnt goat abattoir was located very close to the river and that the available well for the use of the butchers usually went dry during the dry season.

He said, “If you look around, you will see that there is no one killing cow here; all the animals are goats and this is how we prepare it, because most people prefer burnt goat meat. The river is accessible and it is like that in every abattoir.

“Most abattoirs are usually located beside rivers in order to have easy access to water, because we use a lot of water to clean the animal before it can be cooked.”


While some consumers are worried over the health implications of buying their meat from outlets that depend on sewage, others do not see anything bad in it. Mr. John Ike, who owns a restaurant in Wuse Market, Abuja, said he had been preparing the meat for the past eight years, since he began to patronise the abattoir.

For the concluding part of this story and others, grab your copy of The Point from your nearest vendor