• Thu. Jun 20th, 2024

Dredgers threaten legal action against Epe fish farmers

dredge pump

As controversy continues to trail the death of tilapia fish in Epe, the Dredgers Association of Nigeria has threatened to take legal action against Epe tilapia fish farmers for laying false accusations against its members, according to Thisday Online.

Addressing journalists on Wednesday in Lagos, the Executive Secretary of DAN, Mr Richard Ntan, said the association was shocked that farmers carried out what they described as unsubstantiated claims in the media even when they agreed not to speak to the media.

Ntan said that the actions of the fish farmers would undermine the ongoing investigative process by the Minerals and Environmental Management Committee on tilapia fish mortality.

He added that the association was suspecting a smear campaign against its member, Renecon Limited.

Reacting to the threat, the Chairman of Ebute Afuye Fish Farmers Agricultural Multipurpose Society, Rahmon Lasisi, told The PUNCH on a telephone chat, “They can go ahead, please.”

Recall that a few weeks ago; a peace meeting was convened by MIREMCO in Ikeja, Lagos, bringing together stakeholders, including the DAN, Renecon Limited, Epe tilapia fish farmers, and representatives from both state and federal environmental agencies.

The gathering was aimed at addressing the fish mortality incident allegedly linked to dredging activities close to the fish farms.

The tilapia farmers had linked the high mortality of their fish to the activities of dredgers in Epe.

However, DAN lamented that while the investigation was ongoing, the farmers had in recent reports in the media accused Renecon Limited of causing the death of the fish with their activities.

Ntan enunciated, “After extensive and heated discussions, which included reviews of videos of the site where the incident allegedly happened, the meeting observed that there were no dredging activities within the areas cited as the location for the fishing business and the videos presented by the fish farmers at close observation, may not have any direct bearing to the impact on the caged fishes.”

He added that the impact of climate change, particularly of the extreme water temperature and the unprecedented presence of water hyacinth in the area of the incident, could cause appreciable damage.

According to Ntan, the committee gave notice of its intent to get to the root of the incident by conducting investigations and enjoined all parties to stay off further public spat and name-callings until investigations were fully conducted and parties invited to hear and analyse the results of findings.

The DAN scribe noted that the association was surprised that farmers had gone to press against the agreement of the meeting adding that the move was, “clearly inciting a well-crafted agenda to nail activities of  Renecon Limited, our member as the cause of the unfortunate incident”.

He claimed that the press conference was also to raise the alarm about the underhand tactics of the fish farmers, who now probate and reprobate on an issue under investigation.

“That the Dredgers Association of Nigeria would not hesitate to head to court to bring the fisher farmers and all its leaders who granted what is clearly a false narrative without any iota of scientific evidence to buttress their premeditated agenda to rubbish the name of Renecon Limited to pay for their hate speech,” Ntan noted.

 He reiterated that by going to the press, the fish farmers had ambushed the ongoing investigations by MIREMCO, to frustrate an ongoing scientific investigation to find out the cause of the fish mortality and “in same breathe poison decisions if it goes against its expectations”.

Ntan stated that the association had credible intelligence that some fifth columnists who were interested in stopping the activities of Renecon were in league with the fish farmers who were desperate to frustrate the peace process.

“Renecon on the advice of DAN wrote officially to MIREMCO to complain about the publications of the fish farmers and vehemently stated that their narratives as contained in said publications were lies and figments of the fish farmers’ brainless imaginations

“That a week after our rebuttal and in noticing any consequent attacks or media judgment by fish farmers directly or indirectly, Renecon Limited would approach the courts to seek pronouncements to protect its reputation and image, and stop further attempts to criminalise her operations without any credible scientific evidence,” he elucidated.

According to Ntan, by these false tales in the media, the fish farmers have incited innocent members of the public against the dredging company, thus putting the lives of its owners and workers in danger.