An unnamed South East Nigerian business man had imported treated animal hide as raw material for production of leather products, from a certain source. He left the materials in a cold storage facility, returning to find it had become bloated ‘Kpomo’, enticing and salivating. This is what independent research has revealed. A government official, who is not yet authorized to speak to the media, has confirmed that this poisonous material has found its way into Akwa Ibom State, sold as meat.
The official, who spoke with the writer on Tuesday March 22nd, explained that this particular Kpomo (edible Cow skin), may have originally been the skin of elephants, horses, donkey or some other dead animal. The product is believed to have been sold from either Onitsha or Aba to buyers all the way as far as Lagos. It got into Uyo through a popular village market at Ikot Ekpene, Urua Ator.
A Lagos resident, who had developed health complications on consuming it, had alerted medical workers of ‘some special kind of Kpomo’. This prompted authorities to set up a silent, but urgent trace for the meat, to prevent further consumption without causing unnecessary pandemonium.
Meantime, it is strongly believed that this portly, Pork-resembling Kpomo is being smuggled in increasing volume into the country, as contrabandists try to make big business off it.
The material, which is being labeled in classified health regulatory documents as ‘Toxic Kpomo’, and has been categorized by health authorities as a contraband product. The document also notes that “efforts are being made to stamp it out of our markets”.
It is not yet disclosed how many casualties have been caused by this product in Nigeria, and also in Akwa Ibom; but it already has earned a dreadful name; ‘Ikpa Ebola’, meaning ‘Ebola skin’, among some traders in Uyo.
Identifying Ikpa Ebola
The document specifies four qualities that can help identify this toxic meat;
– It is thicker than the normal cow skin
– It has a different smell
– It deteriorates fast
– It is tasteless
Animal Hide is preserved through a process called ‘Tanning’, a term that derived its name from Tannin, an acidic substance traditionally applied to animal skin to prevent decay. But what is even more worrisome is the fact that skins, the kind of this particular Kpomo, is known to be preserved using Formaldehyde or Formalin (mostly 37% formaldehyde) before being exported to Nigeria.
Formalin is the chemical used commonly for embalming human corpses and preserving animal specimens in Zoology laboratories. Among other substances that have similar uses, Formalin is able to keep internal organs from decomposing; which makes it most desired for application on animal hide meant to be transported over long distances.
Quoting the Akwa Ibom office of a regulatory body, “Ikpa Ebola causes damages to human/animal internal organs thereby predisposing consumers to a variety of diseases.”
It is expected that an official statement will be released by relevant government departments to properly warn the citizenry, especially those in affected states, from dealing in the banned commodity, and from consuming it.