By Gabriel Ewepu
THE Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service, NAQS, yesterday, declared all state governments’ levy collecting agents on federal highways targeting agricultural produce as illegal.
In a statement signed by the Head, Media, Communications and Strategies, NAQS, Dr. Chigozie Nwodo, also explained that all such “illegal checkpoints mounted by individuals who are contracted by State governments for levy collection had been ordered by the Inspector General of Police for their permanent removal.”
According to Nwodo, NAQS’ ban on revenue collection on agricultural produce and agro-allied products by private consultants on the Federal Highways remains in force.
He said: “All checkpoints mounted by individuals who are contracted by State Governments for the purpose of such levy collection are illegal and the Inspector General of Police has expressly ordered their permanent removal.
“All transporters of agricultural produce and dealers in agricultural produce are advised to procure loading/off-loading permits from only State Ministries of Agriculture at the state of origin after inspection and certification.
“These documents shall be confirmed by Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service, NAQS, at the Control Posts with the issuance of movement permit and user fee receipt subject to the payment of the stipulated charge for the service.”
The statement warned that NAQS will no longer condone the obstruction of the duty of her officers by transporters who, in a bid to evade the inspection and certification formalities, block the highway and create scenes that often degenerate into the frenzied destruction of government properties at the control posts.
Meanwhile, the NAQS also ordered mandatory check on trucks conveying agro-commodities at the various control posts mounted at designated routes on Federal Highways, making it compulsory for transporters to stop for agro-produce inspection.
According to the agency communiqué was adopted at the third and last meeting of the Implementation Committee on Curtailment of Cattle Rustling in Nigeria, held in Abuja on December 8, 2017, by stakeholders that inspection of the agricultural produce and agro-allied products and payment of the associated service charge take place only at NAQS Control Posts at Jebba, Lokoja, Makurdi, GadaBuki, Katsina-Ala, Orokam, Bode-Saadu and Riyom.
It stated: “The Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service, NAQS, wishes to remind the general public, especially dealers in agro-commodities, of the mandatory requirement to stop at the Quarantine Control Posts along the Federal Highways for inspection of their goods.
“This reminder has become necessary in the wake of increasing reports of the non-adherence of the truckers to the regulation to stop at the control posts for the inspection of their goods.
“For the avoidance of doubt, NAQS officers who are manning the control posts are under obligation to carry out compulsory checks on agricultural produce on Federal Highways. The purpose of the inspection is to improve disease surveillance and pest control as prescribed by the extant laws.”