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Food dealers to go on strike over multiple quarantine posts

* as group petitions IGP, Agric ministry over extortion

Members of the Food Stuff Dealers Association of Nigeria (FSDAN) have petitioned the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, heads of other security agencies and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, threatening to embark on a nation-wide strike if the multiple quarantine posts allegedly erected by the officials of Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) are not dismantled immediately.

In the petition issued on Sunday and signed by FSDAN President General, Chief Christian Afiaonwu, Secretary, Udoka Ahukanna and Operational Officer, Sabastine Ageebee, which was made available to Daily Trust, the members claimed that they were compelled to petition the IGP because the previous petition they wrote to the immediate-past Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbe concerning multiple quarantine posts on roads in Benue State and brazen extortion of their members,  did not bear fruit as it was never replied, apparently spurring the extortionists on.

They alleged that the NAQS officials have turned such posts to extortion points where food dealers part with as much as N2,000 or N7,000, describing the development as unbearable and unacceptable.

The food dealers further alleged that even vehicles conveying fire woods were not spared in the extortion saga.

“They also extort money from vehicles carrying fire woods which is illegal and shows bad intention because quarantine post is not forest guard,” the members claimed.

They added that “the quarantine post situated at Orokam and Katsina Ala, both in Benue State, are illegal,” hence their call for government to quickly dismantle them or the food dealers “will embark on indefinite strike to wage protest by next month if the posts are not dismantled.”

“We are also aware of the stipulations of the section 12 and 20 of Animal Disease (Control) Decree 10 of 1988 vis-à-vis the establishment of control Posts in Nigeria. And to the best of our knowledge, it is mostly located at border areas and not more than one in a state.

“We recognize the Federal Quarantine Control Posts at Jebba, Lokoja, Makurdi and Gada Biu because we were part of the process where it was agreed that they will be established but those at Katsina Ala and Orokam are illegal because there shouldn’t be three quarantine posts in one state.

“So we can no longer bear the burden of paying at three posts in Benue state, hence our decision to once more draw the attention of government through your revered office,” the petition partly read.

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