Police in the North/East Region on Thursday 16 August 2018 seized 60 containers of palm oil suspected of being contaminated.
Four men and one woman were arrested at Savage Square in Makeni, an historic hub for palm oil buying and selling.
They are accused of adding a colouring agent to the palm oil. Police have not identified the colouring substance but said it is mixed with the palm oil when boiling.
Residents of Makeni questioned the ability of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Sierra Leone Police to investigate and detect any contamination.
The Makeni, Rogbaneh Police Station, Head of Operations, Superintendent Mohamed Conteh, said traders are using the mixed coloured substance to increase the quantity of the palm oil and make more profit.
Superintendent Conteh said one of the female suspects threatened to call one of the Ministers of government if they are not released. He accepted the fact that this is the first time they are making arrests because they were not aware of the issue.
Mariatu Tholly was in the market when the police arrested the suspects. She believes that they have been consuming contaminated palm oil, which they don’t know the effect on their health. One of the women (name withheld) said she has never contaminated the palm oil she is selling to the consumers.
Public health expert, Dr. Salifu Samura, said palm oil is full of cholesterol and the colouring agent seems to have a sugary component. He said it is unwise to mix the two substances. But, he said, nothing has been proven scientifically so we do not know if the contaminated palm oil is harmful or not.