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Sisters' confession: How we adulterated cement and sold to unsuspecting buyers

Posted by AYODELE OJO on 2006/06/25 | Views: 393 |

Sisters' confession: How we adulterated cement and sold to unsuspecting buyers

They called it re-bagging, but it’s pure adulteration of cement. Now they are caught in their bid to succeed at the detriment of the public.

They called it re-bagging, but it’s pure adulteration of cement. Now they are caught in their bid to succeed at the detriment of the public.

THe twosome of Larin Lateef, 30, and Rafia Rahimi, 24, have many things in common. Aside being of the same mother, they share a common drive; to succeed. From one village to another, they moved round selling Gamaline 20 to farmers, but the proceeds were not just enough to satisfy their thirst for a better living. Yet there must be a way out, they thought. Their drive to succeed allegedly led them to adulteration of cement.

Sunday Vanguard learnt that what the duo did was to buy bags of Dangote Portland Cement at Abule Egba, in Lagos and transport them to Abeokuta where they remixed the product. They preferred buying cement in Lagos because, according to them, they felt cement bought in Lagos is profitable for the business not because of the price but for the fact that the quantity in each bag is fully packaged. At Abeokuta, they had people who supplied them with plaster sand which they used to mix with the original cement while they got cement bags from another supplier. “ Tipper people did supply us the plaster sand and we paid them. They didn’t know what we did with the plaster,” Larin told our reporter at Ogun State Police Command, saying that her sister, Rafia, was the one saddled with the responsibility of purchasing the cement in Lagos and selling it while she also handled other aspects of the business especially getting the plaster sand and the cement bags.

But now the long hand of the law has caught up with them. They now cool off their feet at the Eleweran Police Command, Abeokuta. Sunday Vanguard spoke with the suspects in Abeokuta where they were being kept. Larin, a mother of one, before she ventured into adulteration of cement, was into the trading of Gamaline 20 at Idi Iroko and other adjoining villages in Ogun State. She said: “ Up till last month, May, my sole business was trading in the herbicide at Idi Iroko and other places.

This job required that I traveled to so many places and was quite stressful. So, I just started this business of re-bagging cement two weeks ago. The need to change work was as a result of my sickness, which made it impossible for me to move to villages like before. Hence, I was advised to stop engaging in hard work as it would affect my health. We only succeeded in our first attempt but caught in the process of doing the second attempt. The proceeds we made from the first attempt were only used to feed ourselves; I have not even bought any dress from what we made as profit.””

On the mode of operations, Larin said what they normally did was get 10 bags of original Dangote Portland Cement, add two bags of plaster sand to it, mix and re-bag to produce 13 bags. After the first set of re-bagging, they would repeat the process as many times as they could. Though she said nobody introduced her into the business, there were insinuations that she learnt the trade from her mother. She denied. She, however, admitted that she came across some people doing the trick at Ewekoro, Ogun State. “Some four years back, when I went to Ewekoro, I saw some people doing it and I felt that I should try it. Nobody introduced me into the business, I just said I should try it,”” she recalled on her contact with the business.

Rafia, a native of Oke Akun, Oyo State, learnt how to sell clothes in Sagamu and after her apprenticeship, she said there was no money for her to start trading in textile materials. “ After learning how to sell textile materials in Sagamu and did my freedom, there was no money to start business. So, I came to Abeokuta where I was following my sister, Larin, to wherever she went to sell so as not to stay idle until we started the business of re-bagging cement about a month ago.

“In the first attempt, I traveled to Lagos with N30,000 to buy cement. I bought the cement worth N30,000 at Abule Egba, Lagos and transported it to Obantoko in Abeokuta. Each bag was sold to us at over one thousand naira. The second time, I bought a little above 30 bags of Dangote Portland Cement in Lagos. When we brought the cement to Abeokuta, we called in some boys to help us re-bag them. What we did here was that we emptied the bags and mixed the content with white sand otherwise called plaster cement. In our first attempt, we were able to re-bag 39 bags out of the 30 bags of cement. We put the cement on sale and people came to buy it. They asked for the price and we told them that we were selling a bag for N1,000 which was below the market price of N1,150 believing that they (customers) were buying original cement. We succeeded in our first attempt.

“ Our second attempt was the one that landed us in trouble. That day after returning from Lagos, we called in the three boys who came at night to do the re-bagging. We left them at the site while they were still working. In the process, the boys ran away when they saw people with torchlight coming towards them. That was Saturday and I was not there at that time, but the boys informed me about the development. I later contacted my sister about the situation and by the next day a lot of people had gathered at the place. When I noticed that there were so many people at the site, I quickly rushed to call a brother of mine whom I explained the state of things to. My brother and myself came to the site and we were arrested. This is our second attempt and what I made from the first business I spent all on feeding. My thinking was that after sometime I would be able to realize some money from the business to start up my clothing business. That was my primary motive of going into that. I know that the act is not good, but just a means to survive.”

Larin and Rafia are not alone in the deal.
Their accomplices, Monsuru Adelani, Segun Raji and, Tunde Lateef, who were contracted to re-bag and adulterate the Dangote Portland Cement, are also in the police cell, telling the police how much they know about the alleged criminal act and the level of their involvement.

Adelani is a major link between the cement dealers and his friends who helped in adulterating the original cement. Larin contacted the 20-year-old who works with a lorry that carries sand. “I live in the same area with Iya Bose, Larin, and, in May, she called me to help her do a certain work. I asked her what type of job and she told me to just come and help mix cement and plaster sand. I know that it will not be possible for me alone to do the job, so I contacted my friends, Segun and Tunde, who agreed to do the job. That was how we did the first assignment and we charged N40 on every bag that we re-bagged,” Adelani recalled on his involvement in the crime.

Raji, 21, a mechanic, said his involvement in the illegal act was as a result of lack. According to him, there was nowhere for him to operate from since he finished his apprenticeship as a mechanic and this prompted him to start helping to load and offload foodstuff like rice at the market places and doing other casual works. In the process, his friend, Adelani, invited him into the business.

““ I was called to come and do re-bagging. When we got to the site, we were taughton how to mix cement with plaster sand. On that day, we met at the site by 7pm and we finished the re-bagging at about 10pm. At the end of the day, we were able to produce 39 bags of cement out of the 30 bags. This fetched us N1,200 as we were paid N40 per bag. The money was shared N400 among the three of us. The first time we were told that the vehicle that brought the cement came late. So, in our second time, when we got to the site for work, we were just told to start working as they, the dealers, were going somewhere. That time was about 8pm and when we started working, we saw a ray of light and we were afraid. This made us to run away. But when we met the owner of the business and explained what we saw to her, she only told us that the people were just those living in the area. She assured us that there would not be any problem and asked us to meet the next morning. By the time we got there the next day, the people living in the area called in police, that was how we were arrested,”” he said.

Speaking with Sunday Vanguard, Ogun State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Femi Awoyale, said that, from all indications, the suspects had been into adulteration of cement for some time, a situation which he ascribed as one of the factors responsible for collapse of buildings.

He said: “You see these people are one of the factors causing incessant building collapse across the urban cities. By the time they have mixed sand with cement, it will not be effective as it ought to be and any house built with this type of adulterated cement will be defective.”

Awoyale noted that the suspects were not the first set of people arrested for such offence in Ogun State. “In the past, we have arrested people like that at Ewekoro Division and, from all indications, it was the mother of these ladies that was arrested at Ewekoro then and the case is still in court. What we can deduce from their action is that they have turned this into a family business and that they are doing this to the detriment of the public,” the PPRO alleged, adding: “We are now investigating various leads to their operations. In fact, they sell the cement to a particular shop at Ibadan and we are going there to make our investigations.. Apart from that, they got the bag from somewhere and we are going into that too. So, we also send these adulterated products for laboratory analysis so as to know that in the course of prosecuting them at the law court, they are not unjustly punished but that the law takes its course. The case is still under investigation and as soon as we are through we will charge them to court.””
The police spokesman therefore advised members of the public to beware of where they get their products from and should not patronize cheap building materials.

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Comments (3)

Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your “evening life is better than evening life”?

Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.