Abuja — Cattle and food stuff dealers operating under the auspices of the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers have threatened to embark on a nationwide strike, if nothing is done within two months to stop multiple taxes and harassment of their members by security agencies.
President of the union, Alhaji Mohammed Ibrahim, told reporters yesterday in Abuja that his members had to contend with over 30 military checkpoints, 110 police checkpoints, as well as checkpoints by other security agencies in 35 locations.
He also alleged harassment of the members of the union all over the country by illegal gangs.
According to Ibrahim, the mode of operation of the gangs is to disguise as private contractors collecting revenues for some states and local governments.
"Their habit is to mount roadblocks in the night and demand for taxes and levies from our members under severe duress. The presentation of receipts of taxes and levies paid at the point of embarkation is ignored," he added.
Ibrahim said the union had written to the Inspector General of Police, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS), and the governors about their plight over multiple taxation and harassment on the highway.
"We are giving government two months and if nothing was done we are going to withdraw supply of cattle from the market," he said.
Ibrahim said the union had made representations in the past to the Minister of Agriculture; Minister of Labour and Employment; leadership of the official security organisations of the country, including the police and the military, but nothing was done about the complaints.
"We wish to also reach out to the Nigerian and world public through the media. Our pleas are that everyone should prevail on all lawful authorities in our country to end the illegal levies, multiple taxation, endemic harassment and offensive extortion of members of the union.
"All the extra cost of procuring foodstuff and cattle, transporting and settling touts from the points of production and primary market on the way to the urban areas of need is consequently passed on to the final consumers. In other words, the extra cost of foodstuff and cattle in our country has a direct connection with the illegal levies and multiple taxes extorted from our members," he explained.
Ibrahim said the extortion of members of his union had a negative effect on the prices of foodstuff and beef.
"For the purpose of illustration, the multiple taxes regime adds over 100 per cent cost on the ordinary prices of the foodstuff and cattle. The multiple taxations for a truckload of cattle often amount to about N450,000, which is higher than the transportation cost of N330,000.
"Similarly, the illegitimate charges on a truckload of foodstuff are about N226,000, " he said.
Ibrahim listed the states where touts collect illegal taxes and levies to include, Benue, Plateau, Nasarawa, Kogi, Taraba, Enugu, Anambra, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, and Cross Rivers.
He also listed the towns where the touts operate to include, Jootar; Kyado; Zaki-Biam; Ugba/Zaki-Biam Road; Bridgehead Katsina-Ala; Tyogbema; Vandekiya; Achoho; Naka; Aliede; Ogobia-Oturkpo; North Bank Makurdi; Ade-lgwu Ogbadibo Riyo Toto; Gunduma; Akwanga.
Others are Lokoja; Otukpa Junction Jimlari; Gidam ldi; Wukari by the Federal University; Suntai; Murarraban Baisa; Takum Entry; Takum Exit; Ga'akenm; Ogoja; Umba; Ikom; Umbok; Yahe Town; Obollo-Afor; Abakaliki Expressway, Bridgehead Onitsha; Ozubulu; Ugwoba Awka, Njaba; Okpuala; Awomama Owerri, Umuoka Junction; Lukpanta, Enugu/Abakaliki Expressway, and Cross River/Onu-Ebonyi.