Blame Game: Army, Police, Customs Extortions Responsible for High Food Prices - Ogbeh - EazyFeeds

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Friday 10 February 2017

Blame Game: Army, Police, Customs Extortions Responsible for High Food Prices - Ogbeh

Security agents have been blamed by the Federal Government for the high cost of food and other related items in the country.
The government on Thursday lamented the “end­less extortion” of truck driv­ers conveying farm produce to various urban centres by men of the Nigeria Police, the Nigerian Army and the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), attached to series of road blocks in various parts of the country.

Appearing before the Senate and House of Repre­sentatives Joint Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development at the Nation­al Assembly, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural De­velopment, Chief Audu Og­beh, maintained that one of the factors responsible for the high cost of food prices in the country “Is the dai­ly unbearable extortions by men of the Nigeria Police, their counterparts in the Army and Customs Service, on truck drivers conveying farm produce from the hin­terlands to urban centres un­der the guise of carrying out security checks.

“These truck drivers, based on raw lamentations made to the ministry in recent time, al­leged that at every checkpoint, they are always forced to part with reasonable amount of money by any group of the security agencies, which they said, made farmers to have no option than to factor the cost of the extortions into the prices of the food items,” Ogbeh insisted.
The minister told the com­mittee that based on the com­plaints by the truck drivers, his ministry wrote to the Inspec­tor-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris and heads of the other se­curity agencies to “dissuade their operatives from the act, but daily reports available to the ministry still show that such motorists are still being extorted.”
He also cited the high cost of diesel which sells for N300 per litre as another factor re­sponsible for the skyrocket­ing prices of food items in the country.
Ogbeh said that trucks con­veying farm produce are pow­ered by diesel, adding that the treaty on free movement of goods and services by the Eco­nomic Community of West Af­rican States (ECOWAS) among member states, gives room for the movement of over 300,000 trucks of grains outside Nigeria daily, which the ministry can­not check.
Assuring the committee that the Federal Government would soon see to the reduc­tion in prices of the food items, he pointed out that a commit­tee to handle the task had been set up.
According to him, farmers are angry with him over the move because they see the sit­uation on ground as economi­cally favourable to them.
He said: “The situation on ground, as far as high prices of food items are concerned, is one of a dilemma to me be­cause while the city dwellers are unhappy with us, farmers are very happy and seriously kick­ing against any move to tam­per with their happiness by cutting down the high price of farm produce for now.”
The minister specifically noted that one of such farmers tackled him recently in Katsi­na not to tamper with the pre­sent prices of food items by claiming that he made N4 mil­lion from the sale of Sorghum, while another farmer in Anam­bra State, claimed that he made N1 million profit from the sale of rice.

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