The Agricultural Produce Sellers Association of Nigeria (APSAN) has decried the mounting of illegal checkpoints to extort money from its members in the Middle Belt, as one of the factors responsible for the skyrocketing price of food items.
The National President of APSAN, Aloys Akortsaha lamented that for over 20 years, the incessant extortion had continued to make food prices expensive for the common man in the country.
Akortsaha said that the cost of transporting food commodities from one state to another is far more expensive than the cost of the commodities.
According to him, “This is why the prices of commodities are skyrocketing in the country. For instance in Benue State, where a lot of agricultural commodities such as yam, groundnut comes from, we have over 200 illegal checkpoints while the Benue State Internal Revenue Service that is saddled with the responsibility of collecting taxes has just about 15 checkpoints. Each local government you pass through, you will cross at least over 20 illegal checkpoints.
“It is a survey we have carried out and these illegal checkpoints were established by the community youths in collaboration with traditional rulers of the respective communities. These illegal checkpoints were established to extort money and they are a source of concern for farmers and food security in the country.
“For instance, they collect as much as N100,000 from Mercedes 911 vehicle while some collect about N50,000. The government is also losing a lot as a result of the operations of these illegal checkpoints. We are calling on the attention of the Federal Government to the operations of these illegal checkpoints.
“We have met with the Minister of Agriculture (and Rural Development) and we proposed a task force, which we call ‘Taskforce on Illegal Taxes of Agro Commodities’ that will be looking into this. He is yet to act on it and we want him to expedite actions on the inauguration of this taskforce to address the activities of these illegal checkpoints”, he added.