Selling of illegal imported chicken meat from Europe on the Arena market. The meat is smuggled from Benin.
Photo: Jörg Böthling


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In 2003, Nigeria banned chicken meat imports to protect the domestic poultry sector. Yet the markets in Africa’s largest economy are full of frozen poultry smuggled over the border from neighbouring Benin. Those who suffer are mainly small-scale farmers and traders.

Rainy season in Nigeria. A mud battle rages at the Arena Market in Lagos’ Oshodi district, a vast former military base. People jump the puddles, or balance on stones and along boards to get across. This is the only way to keep their feet more or less dry when they go to one of the countless stalls where traders are advertising their vegetables, spices, household goods and meat at the tops of their voices. Asinuju Iaybo, a market trader, stands solid as a rock in the hustle and bustle, her arms folded. Her hens are clucking away in the cages behind her. “The rain is the least of our problems, it’s the frozen chicken that is much worse.” She wipes some raindrops from her face with her hand. “They sell birds from England and Spain over there,” she says, pointing to one of the many long red-brick barracks in the marketplace.

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