Lassa fever: Benue Reps disagree over rat delicacy
Members of the House of Representatives from Benue State
on Wednesday disagreed among themselves on whether to
eat rats or not.
The rodent, which lives in both bushes and human homes,
is a delicacy widely consumed in Benue State, particularly
among the Tiv tribe.
The rat is also one of the known carriers of the deadly
Lassa fever virus, which has claimed 41 lives in its
resurgence in Nigeria.
But, on Wednesday, as the House debated a motion calling
on the Federal Government to urgently contain the spread
of the virus, lawmakers from Benue State got into an
argument over the consumption of rats.
member from Imo State, Mr. Chike Okafor.
Okafor only urged the House to intervene by advising
relevant government health agencies to contain the spread
of the virus. But Mr. Hassan Saleh, from the Idoma tribe of
Benue State stirred the disagreement when he called for a
total ban on the eating of rats.
“People should stop eating rats; the disease is dangerous,”
said Saleh, representing Ogbadibo/Ado/Okpokwu Federal
“We have lost lives and the fear is that this is more than
when the Ebola Virus was here. So, people should stop
Committee on Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Herman
Hembe; and the Chairman, House Committee Rules and
Business, Mr. Oker Jev, immediately opposed his
suggestion by urging the Speaker, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, to
call Saleh to order.
The two chorused that stopping the eating of rats could not
be the solution.
Hembe, who represents Konshisha Federal Constituency,
raised his hand several times, shaking his head in
disagreement while insisting that he must speak to counter
He eventually jumped up to speak without being recognised,
but the speaker politely turned him down, saying he would
not allow the chamber to be turned into a rats affair, amid a
thunderous laughter on the floor.
Saleh thereafter left his seat to confer with Hembe and Jev
on their seats. The three lawmakers later shook hands and
resumed their legislative work.