“An SMS went viral, alleging that Boko Haram has poisoned beans being sent from the north.”
An SMS being circulated in Enugu has sharply divided the residents over the propriety or otherwise of the consumption of beans following poison rumours.
The message, whose origin is unknown, warns the residents to stop consuming beans, alleging that the commodity had been poised by the Boko Haram sect.
Josephat Odogwu, a dealer in the product at Ogbete Market, acknowledged receiving such a message. “It is a calculated attempt by some disgruntled elements to spoil our business,” he said.
“You will remember that a rumuor like this was circulated last year simply because a family died after eating contaminated beans. If you check the origin of this wild message, it will not be unconnected with a similar incident.”
Odogwu noted that the volume of sales of beans had reduced unlike in the previous weeks, claiming that he previously sold between 30 bags and 50 bags weekly but that it dropped to 20 bags last week.
Ndidi Okenwa, a retailer of beans in the market, said patronage by her customers had reduced since the rumour was spread. She said her family had been eating from the stock she had without any negative effect.
Some consumers of beans said that in spite of the message, they had continued to eat it because they had stored the quantity that could last till end of the year.
Conversely, Promise Ani, a mother of four, said that since she received the message, she had not cooked beans for her family for fear of losing anybody.
“If these Boko Haram people could throw bombs anywhere they choose without being caught, they can equally poison beans to wipe out the southerners,” she said. “Up till now, nobody knows the reason why they are throwing the bombs, so they may decide to change the mode of killing.”
Nebechi Uwakwe, on her part, wondered why they should poison beans alone when some other food items like grains, tomatoes, garden eggs, and pepper, among others also come from the area.
“If they poison beans and people stop eating it, it will equally affect their business,” she said. “People should not compound the problems in the country with such negative rumuors because we have enough security challenges that are yet to be solved.”
-By Ikechukwu Onyekwere
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