Millers Association in Ebonyi Thursday protested against the alleged state government’s multiple taxes in the Rice Mill Market.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the protesters marched through major roads in Abakiliki, the state capital, from the market and terminated at the Old Government House.
The visibly angry millers displayed placards with different inscriptions, demanding the removal of the association executive.
Some of the inscriptions read: “We do not want the Chairman again,” ”We need fresh election. “This executive must go,” “We are tired of high multiple taxes” and “Please, Government allow us to conduct fresh election,” amongst others.
Speaking with newsmen during the march, the group’s Woman Leader, Mrs Fidelia Mbam, said the protest was organised for them to appeal to government to reduce the taxes in the market.
“We have suffered too much in terms of the taxes we pay daily in the market.
“The charges, such as the Gate Fees, have been increased and this is driving our customers away.
“It has become increasingly difficult to cope with the situation. State government should review the taxes.
“For instance, the price of customised rice bag has gone up, leading to a consequential hike in the price of rice in the market.
“A 25kg bag formerly sold between N150 and N200 now goes for N300, while the 50kg bag sold at N300 before, now sells at N500,” Mbam said.
The protesters appealled to the state government to review its policy on revenue collection and bring down the taxes in the market.
Responding to the demand by the group, the Secretary to the State Government, Mr Kenneth Ugbala, said the state government was committed to the development of the rice mill.
According to Ugbala, government would not allow anything that can hinder progress in the market.
“We have heard your voice. What burdens you also burdens the state government.
“We do not want anything that would stand as obstacle to you in the market.
“We want you to go back to your shops and I promise to take your message to Gov. David Umahi,” Ugbala said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the group had on May 18 staged a similar peaceful protest, challenging alleged extortions of traders by the management of the market.
Reacting to the allegation, the Chairman of the association, Mr Chukwuma Eniokoro, told newsmen that the half-a-million naira monthly revenue previously paid to the government coffers by the millers was reviewed to N3.5 million. (NAN)