Soludo has increased touts in Anambra, protesting drivers cry out

Drivers, including commercial bus and lorry operators, have lashed out at the Anambra State Governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo over increasing activities of touts in Anambra State.

They protested on Saturday on the platform of United Mini Truck Drivers Association, Anambra State chapter.

They said under Soludo’s reign the activities of touts seemed to have been legalized contrary to the governor’s position that there would be no such class of people under his reign.

The protesting drivers said touts under Soludo’s administration would wear government official uniforms to perfect their dark deals.

They lamented the activities of revenue agents working for the Anambra State Internal Revenue Service and “Agberos” saying they are causing them pains.

The drivers who held a peaceful demonstration round Onitsha markets, complained that the revenue agents had become a threat to their livelihoods by their incessant “extortions” and “harassments” on a daily basis.

The head of the association, John Udoh, who spoke to journalists on behalf of the group, disclosed that several tolls and levies were being forced on them on a daily basis.

Udoh called on the state government to harmonise the levies and investigate the issue, saying that the development had negatively impacted both commercial and economic activities in the state.

He said, “Firstly, there are so many of them with different uniforms on the roads claiming to be revenue agents. We don’t know which is which. They collect money for goods and wares brought into Anambra markets, they call it ‘Ego Ibu’, meaning ‘money for load’. This is also affecting trading activities as prices of goods and services keep increasing because of this.

“They engage in unscrupulous activities in the name of collection of revenues from all motorists and vehicles conveying goods to the markets, including wheelbarrow pushers and pedestrians.

“We are being issued receipts that carry the logo of Anambra Internal Revenue Service. Apart from that, they also issue us receipts such as ‘Freedom fighters MASSOB’, ‘Obodo Adigomma’, ‘Onitsha Royal Kingdom’, ‘Onitsha Ado New Task Force’, ‘offloading and downloading tax’, among others, and these are levies we pay on a daily basis.

“These illegal receipts and payments seem to be the creation of high-level cabals working in association with some officials of the state government and it is crucial the state government investigates them.

“To perfect their evil motives, the revenue agents no longer use the POS as agreed upon by the state government, rather they collect cash at both the borders and markets.

“We no longer make anything as our daily income that has been badly affected by their illegal activities and are preventing drivers from conveying goods into Anambra markets. It has also forced drivers conveying goods to stop at the markets in neighbouring states.”

Some aggrieved members of the group, who also spoke at different markets visited in the five local government areas of the state, warned the revenue agents to stop creating hardship for the people through their nefarious activities, which they said had negatively impacted the prices of goods and services.

“At the Ogbo Efere Market in Onitsha, the revenue agents collect N4,000, N6,000, N3,000, N1,000, from us for any goods loaded in that market, after paying the government agreed tax. This is killing business.

“The governor has always said Agberos should leave the road, but they seem to be increasing in number,” the aggrieved members said.

But in a swift reaction when contacted on the development, the Chairman, Anambra State Internal Revenue Service, Dr Greg Ezeilo, said Anambra State had their haulage tax which was divided into two categories, upstream and downstream, and noted that nothing like “Ego Ibu” or “Offloading or loading tax.”

Ezeilo pointed out that vehicles coming from other states which offload their goods and wares were made to pay “downstream”, while vehicles passing through the state roads paid “upstream” and showed their receipt at the border to AIRS agents.

He said, “Traders from Eke Awka Market in Awka can come to Onitsha and buy goods without paying any money to revenue agents, any agent who collects money for such a movement will be penalised.

“Take the pictures of such agents engaged in collections of illegal tolls such as ‘Ego Ibu’ and send it to my office and action will be taken immediately.”


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