* We have local government’s approval – Suspects
Anambra state government on Monday arrested a High Chief and two others for illegal collections of levies and extortion of money from members of the public.
The suspects are Chief Francis Eze, the leader of the revenue collection, Mr. Vincent Eze-Obi, the driver and Gilbert Ugochukwu, who were arrested in Ekwulobia market, Aguata local government while extorting money from market men and women.
The state’s Commissioner for Trade and Commerce, Hon. Christian Madubuko, while parading them at the state secretariat, said the three suspected illegal toll collectors would be handed over to the police immediately and charged to court on Tuesday.
He said despite the state government’s announcement in the media about the ban on collection of all kind of levies, some persons were still extorting money from innocent citizens.
Madubuko said that these people have been flaunting government’s order on collections of illegal revenues from people in the state.
“They are enemies of the state government. The government has banned toll collections and yet they are collecting money from people. They are living on extorting money from people. They extort money from traders coming to do business in the state and those doing business in the state. Sometimes, they present all kinds of documents authorising them to carry out their illegal activities,” he said.
The commissioner also said the state government would deal ruthlessly with these set of people in order to sanitise the system.
The commissioner further disclosed that the ministry has successfully prosecuted about 75 illegal revenue collectors in the state, who are now in various prisons across the state.
Chief Francis Eze who spoke to newsmen said that he obtained approval from Aguata local government authority to build market in Ekwulobia and the Igwe of the town was aware.
According to him, he has spent over N8.2million in the process of building the market where he collects tolls from the people.
“I bought a land in the area at a cost of N5.3million and I have spent over N3millions on the construction of 24 lock up shops. All the money, we get as toll are ploughed back into the building of the shops. We are building these shops to decongest street trading in the area because those traders on roads are killed by motorists at times,” he said.