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Food scarcity imminent as foodstuff dealers boycott evacuation of goods from Benue

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Prince Afiaunwu

Federated Foodstuff Dealers Association of Nigeria has announced its decision to cut the evacuation of all farm produce and other food items from Benue state until issues of illegal levies and harassment of members were settled.

National President of the food dealers association Prince Christian Afiaunwu told newsmen in Enugu weekend that their members have been encountering lots of problems especially in Benue state.
“In Benue state the kind of levies imposed on our members are so much that we can’t bear it any longer. In 2013 we had an understanding with the Benue state government that the amount we have to pay as levy for a lorry load of goods is N17,500. It was also agreed that this money should be paid at the point of loading.
“Unfortunately since 2015 the APC government in the state flouted the agreement claiming that they were not the ones we negotiated with. What they now do is that even if you buy the goods from another state, you must pay N62,500 once you get to the first boundary in Benue.”
Prince Afiaunwu recalled that series of complaints from the association caused the federal government to mandate all states to build a functional control post where veterinary and other checks are carried out.
He however regrtted that in Benue state there are over 40 points where levies are collected. “Every village have theirs and once they are there on the road you have no option than to comply or they will rob and assault you. At the end you spend over N200,000 in that state alone.
“Lots of our members have lost their lives to these hoodlums while others have been amputated. Chibuike Okafpr, a member from Owerri now has one leg because they drew him down from the lorry and his leg was crushed as he tried to get up.
The traders accuse some state government officials as the brains behind ungodly and illegal activities of thugs in the state.
“We discovered that most government officials are the people producing those receipts and send these boys to the road to make money for them.
“Severally we have written to the governor, state assembly, Board of Internal Revenue, the police but they didn’t do anything. At a point we got police from Force Headquarters but the boys attacked the policemen and destroyed their vehicles and uptill today nothing happened.
“We want Nigeria to know that whatsoever is happening in Benue state is caused by the government. We are also calling for the federal government intervention because it is not our wish that the people should suffer.
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