By Ukung Alawa
Members of the Amalgamated Union of Livestock and Agric Produce sellers in northern Cross River state, have accused some officials of the state government of severally attempting to illegally extort livestock dealers coming into the state.
This accusation is coming on the heels of a new list of 14 illegal levies that officials posing as revenue contractors, are seeking to impose on the traders.
It will be recalled that the Governor, Senator Ben Ayade canceled all revenue contracts, and relevant MDAs have been asked to collect their statutory levies by themselves. But the situation is a sharp contrast at the Gakem Disease Control post.
An official of the union who spoke to CrossRiverWatch but won't want to be named for fear of being attacked said:
"Some of Ayade's appointees are now coming with a list of 14 levies that are illegal and they say we must pay them.
"They include Cross River State youth empowerment levy, Cross River State youth development levy, sewage, gate pass etc.
"I know they are all illegal but because they feel nobody can get across to the Governor, they brought up all these things at the control post.
"Well, because of the situation we have found ourselves in, because they always come with their thugs, these are people that walk with small guns, we just manage ourselves with them and play along.
"But this is a very serious issue that will dent the image of Cross River State. For God's sake, it is only Cross River State that you have sewage, gate pass; gate pass to where? ecology and others."
Another official of the union who spoke with this reporter also pleased anonymity for fear of being trailed and appealed to the governor to intervene and save the situation from degenerating to violence.
"I want to draw His Excellency's attention the nonsense that is going on at the Gakem Disease Control post. Let him call his foot soldiers to order because as I speak with you now, we find it difficult to do our business and even the governnent people who are supposed to do the animal disease control program and check to be sure that livestock entering the state are disease free cannot even do their job because of the activities of armed thugs.
"The disease control post is not for revenue generation, it is called a disease control point. But what the thugs are doing is all about money. And they don't give one kobo to the Government. All those illegal levies they are asking us to pay are sub heads for different government appointees."
CrossRiverWatch has reached the Ministry of Agriculture for comments on the matter.
The said control post has been the subject of an alleged Police extra judicial killing due to alleged 'interests' from some public office holders.
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