Rice millers in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, have protested against what they claimed to be multiple taxation in the state’s mill market.
The millers, who decried alleged extortions of traders by the management of the market, called on the state government to find a lasting solution to it.
They appealed to the government to review its revenue policy and reduce the increased taxes.
The protesters carried placards with different inscriptions such as, “Management should not take rice mill as their father’s business”, “We are tired of the multiple and high taxes”, “We need an elected chairman and not Caretaker Committee to move development forward in the mill.”
Speaking with journalists in Abakaliki on Tuesday, Chukwuma Eniokoro, the chairman of millers in the market, said they embarked on the peaceful protest to appeal to government to reduce the increased taxation in the rice mill market.
“This is our first time of experiencing a lot of abnormalities in the area of taxes and revenues in this market. Our monthly payment for revenue was N500,000 before, but had been increased to N3.5 million at the moment.
“The cost of an empty bag of rice has increased – a 25kg bag sold for between N150 and N200 before is now N300, while the 50kg bag that was selling for N300 before is now selling for N500.
“Other charges such as gate fees have also been increased and this is driving away our customers.
“We cannot cope anymore. We had endured sufferings and smiling for so long and we want it to stop,” Mr Eniokoro stated.
Obinna Irem, a mill owner, also decried the multiple taxation and “extortion” from the management of the market.
“Our stand now is, henceforth, to stop milling until our problems are solved. The market is already closed, no rice milling. All our customers have diverted to other markets in the north,” Mr Irem said.
Samuel Ogodo, the chairman, Caretaker Committee in the Rice Mill market, said the protest was a welcome development, but, however, said some of the allegations were untrue.
Ikechukwu Eze, the special adviser to Governor David Umahi on Internal Security, said the message from the protesting millers would be delivered to the state government.
“We have heard all your demands and I am here to take your messages and submit them to the state government.
“The governor asked me to tell you to embrace peace, because it is under a peaceful atmosphere that we can achieve more progress,” Mr Eze said.
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