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Ebonyi rice mill crisis: Traders/mill owners accuses state rice GM

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By Ruth Oginyi, Ebonyi

As crisis at the Abakaliki Rice Milling Industry persists, Mill owners and traders have accused the General Manager, Ebonyi Rice World, Hon. Mathew Uguru of hijacking the structure of their leadership.

They alleged that Hon. Uguru’s action was delaying the mill owners and traders from conducting their election after the state government’s intervention on their request for the removal of the former caretaker Chairman, Hon. Samuel Ogodo.

But when contacted on the phone, Hon. Uguru who denied the allegations said, “Journalist, do you believe that thing that they told you and besides, I am a member of rice mill.”

One of the rice millers, Chief Maduka Anigor, earlier told journalists that the Ebonyi Rice World Manager hinted that those who had installed the former mill chairman boasted that the Industry would never have their peaceful election unless they concede to his demand.

According to him, the rice mill owners had a bad experience with the past leadership which was imposed on them and therefore insisted that the industry’s constitution on electing their representatives must prevail.

Mr. Anigor who explained that he had spent not less than thirty years in the milling industry, lamented that of all the time spent by Hon. Ogodo as their caretaker Chairman, the mill witnessed the highest level of business stagnancy to the point that all their customers from rural areas stopped coming to mill their rice because of high taxation and unnecessary extortion from boys allegedly planted by Hon. Uguru.

Speaking, one of the traders, Mr. Sylvester Ugwumba, said he stopped going to the mill about a year ago due to excessive taxation from the immediate dissolved caretaker Chairman.

He noted that the mill which was a beehive of rice all of a sudden increased their prices of empty sacks, toll charges and introduced other unnecessary extortion that was not in the market.

According to Mr. Ugwumba, “Abakaliki Rice Mill is our major place of buying rice since I started my business in the past twenty years but, all of a sudden, things started increasing every day.

“Empty sack that was sold for N150 for 50kg turned to N300, and 25kg which was N100 turned N250 and so forth with charges for their taxation.

“I got a call some weeks ago that government had intervened and normalcy has been returned, I came and see by myself that the market is now at peace and price returned to a considerable amount as seen in other mills.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Sylvanus Njoku appealed for a free, fair and creditable election when the election would be conducted, adding that the Industry’s image has been badly affected by the last caretaker leadership and imposing another group of leaders with the government instrumentality as threatened by some stakeholders in the state would do more harm than good.

Mr. Njoku called on the state Governor, Engr. David Umahi, to intervene by ensuring that the leadership of the mill follows the constitutional principles of the industry.

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