Foodstuff dealers protest, threaten strike over alleged extortion by NAQS officials
Members of the Foodstuff Dealers Association of Nigeria (FSDAN) have petitioned the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu and others, threatening a nationwide strike if the multiple quarantine posts allegedly erected by officials of the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS) on highways are not dismantled immediately.
The food dealers said they were opposed to multiple quarantine posts in a state because a quarantine post, which ought to be sited on the border between two states, should not be more than one.
They also alleged that the NAQS officials had turned such posts to “extortion points” where food dealers part with as much as N2,000 or N7,000, a situation they described as unbearable and unacceptable.
In the petition issued yesterday and signed by FSDAN President-General, Chief Christian Afiaonwu; Secretary, Udoka Ahukanna; Operational Officer, Sabastine Ageebee and Public Relations Officer, Adams Alidu, the members said that they were compelled to petition the IGP because the previous petition they wrote to immediate past Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh concerning multiple quarantine posts on roads in Benue State and brazen extortion of their members did not bear fruits.
They further alleged that even vehicles conveying firewood were not spared in the extortion saga.
“They also extort money from vehicles carrying firewood which is illegal and shows bad intention because quarantine post is not forest guard.
“The quarantine posts 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 were not dismantled.
“We are aware that the quarantine posts are to checkmate animal disease and unwholesome foodstuff from one location to another.
“We recognise 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 read.