World Bulletin/News Desk
Around 100 Udhiyah animals (animals used in Eid al-Adha holiday sacrifices) have been confiscated in Lagos, Nigeria's most populous city, in a government crackdown on Udhiyah sellers for alleged violations of the state's environmental laws.
"What you heard about us arresting and detaining rams is true, but [it] is never in bad faith," Bayo Sulaiman, chairman of the Lagos State Taskforce on Environmental and Special Offences (Enforcement) Unit, told Anadolu Agency by phone Thursday morning.
"We warned the sellers to sell their rams only at designated centers, but they turned deaf ears to our instructions," he said.
Dozens of rams were seized and placed in vans manned by security agents and state officials.
Authorities say the confiscated animals would only be returned once their owners had cleaned up the designated green areas in which they were kept.
Sulaiman insisted that the government has no intention of keeping the animals, despite mounting fears that officials could exploit the situation by not returning the seized Udhiyah.
"There are locations the Ministry of Agriculture has designated for the sale of rams," he said. "They should go there."
"They cannot just jump into a place and start selling rams," he added. "The rams were seized and taken away. In fact, their owners are the ones feeding them in the place we kept them."
Udhiyah, or animal sacrifice, is an annual ritual observed by those Muslims who can afford it to commemorate Prophet Ibrahim's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail upon God's orders.
Ram sellers, for their part, have appealed to the government for adequate time to find viable alternatives.
They insist that the 24-hour notice given them by the authorities is unrealistic, especially with Eid al-Adha celebrations around the corner.
Nigeria will celebrate the first day of the sacrificial feast on Tuesday, October 15.
"I swear to God, it's not fair," Adamu Uthman, a ram merchant in Iyana Ipaja, told AA.
"This is not governance. Some people are just hiding under the government to perpetrate evil," he charged.
Uthman said that five of his rams – all of them very large and costly – had been confiscated and taken to unknown destinations.
"But people around are helping us to talk to them [the authorities] to release our rams," Uthman added.
"We pray to Allah to let them listen, because it will be a devastating loss for poor men who invest their savings to buy these animals in hopes of making a profit."
Ismail Shehu, a ram seller in Agege who claimed to have recently come from Sokoto – a city located in Nigeria's extreme northwest – said he was unaware of the relocation order.
"This has been where we sell our animals for years," Shehu told AA in the Hausa dialect. "If any government is going to change it, it should not be a thing of 24 hours – that's wicked."Last Mod: 10 Ekim 2013, 15:12