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Multiple taxation: Ebonyi govt dissolves Rice Mill leadership 

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By Ruth Oginyi

Ebonyi state government, Saturday, dissolved the caretaker committee of Abakaliki Rice Mill Industry, led by Ogodo Samuel.

This is coming after series of protest against the rice mill chairman Ogodo and his caretaker committee by the millers and buyers.

Secretary to State Government and Coordinating Commissioner Ugbala Kenneth, in a statement issued in Abakaliki, said the Government will in due course set up a new leadership after due consultations with stakeholders of the industry.

The statement, “In the effort of Ebonyi State Government to ensure continuous maintenance of peace and security in the state as well as enhance orderliness in the conduct of business activities at the Abakaliki Rice Mill Industry, His Excellency, the Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. David Umahi, has approved the immediate dissolution of the Caretaker Committee of Abakaliki Rice Mill Industry. 

“The security agencies should take note while the former Caretaker leadership of Abakaliki Rice Mill Industry is to adhere strictly to this government directive” he stated.

Orient Daily reports that business activities were recently crippled at the popular Abakaliki Rice Mill when the millers and workers of the firm protested against multiple taxations and other ill-treatment meted on them by the leadership of the Rice Mill.

According to the millers and workers who staged peaceful protests, multiple taxations in the Rice mill have driven customers away and called for an end to it.

The protesters demanded the removal of the caretaker chairman and reduction of the tax as well as prices of customized rice bags. Buyers were, however, stranded at the mill as every shop was locked.

They alleged that farmers were compelled to pay the sum of N370 per bag before they will bring their paddy rice into the mill for processing.

They added that another N370 is also charged per bag before the rice is allowed to be taking after processing.

The protesters maintained that an empty bag used in bagging the rice after processing which was supposed to be sold for N150, now goes for N300 in the company. 

“My machine has broken down severally because of adulterated gas here. They imposed bags on us that immediately you put rice into it, it will tear and the rice will pour on the ground,” one of the millers complained.

A regular customer, Theodore Eneh, from Ogbete Main Market, Enugu State, who was stranded and couldn’t buy rice following the protest, said his colleagues had stopped buying rice in the Abakaliki Rice Mill and are now buying in the North because of multiple taxation and unwholesome practices in the rice mill.

Earlier in his reaction, the accused caretaker committee chairman of the mill, Ogodo Samuel, said the protesters were free to express their feelings, but insisted that the allegations were false.

He said: “The most important thing is that it is being carried out within the frame of legality. People trying to express themselves while asking this, and, I don’t think that there is anything bad about it. Since we have not recorded any causalities or anybody hurt in any way, it is just a peaceful protest.

“One of the reasons, according to sources, is the issue of revenue that we are paying which is on the higher side, even though it is not true, as the case may be because every organization has a little token you give the government, as the case may be.

“Following the downturn of Nigeria economy, most of the states have fallen back on their IGR to be able to provide the need of the people, and that is the area we are trying to make the necessary adjustment, even though when doing anything tax.

“You collecting money from people is very difficult, that is the point you people met us.”

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