By James Ogunnaike
In order to curtail the excesses of security men and paramilitary officers along the border towns in Ogun State, the State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun at the weekend promised that a special, dedicated telephone number would be activated where citizens can lodge complaints.
Abiodun said these while reacting to complaints by members of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), South West Chapter, who visited him in his office in Oke Mosan, Abeokuta, said when fully operational, citizens would have direct access to government where complaints of harassment and intimidation could be made.
Abiodun said this measure became necessary because some security personnel often arm-twist, harass and intimidate businessmen and women and disposes them of their goods on those routes.
IPMAN had embarked on industrial action on account of the allegations of extortion by security agents along the corridor.
The governor noted that as an investor-friendly government, his administration would not allow investors like petroleum marketers to be harassed.
As partners in the quest of building an economically viable State, Abiodun said petroleum marketers would be protected against extortionate taxes, rates and nefarious activities of federal or state officials.
“We will have a citizens complaints number. This will be a dedicated number that anyone who feels harassed, intimidated or extorted can call round the clock. No law enforcement agency, traffic agency or revenue agency is allowed to misbehave in Ogun State.
“Once that happens, you just call that number – give the description of who you are and the person who is trying to extort or harass you.
“Our tanker drivers, independent petroleum marketers are people who are investors in our State and this State is an investor-friendly one, so we will do everything to support our investors. We will not allow you to be harassed, intimidated or extorted by anyone under any guise, I can assure you,” he said.
The governor thanked the IPMAN leadership for calling off the industrial action to alleviate the suffering of people living in the border towns.
He assured that his administration would do all within its capacity to ensure that they carry out their legitimate businesses without hindrance.
In his remarks, the South-West Zonal Chairman of IPMAN, Mr. Dele Tajudeen noted that they came to express their grievances on the harassment of the Joint Task Force of Customs and the Military personnel.
He called on the federal government to properly indicate where the 20km set-back for petroleum products starts and ends.
“The Governor has addressed the issue and has promised to put a stop to it. We have honoured him by lifting the ban on the supply of petroleum products to the State, pending when the issues would be resolved.
“Since the closure of the border, you would recall that government came up with a policy of ’20km to the border’ but there is no demarcation, as at today. Nobody can say where the 20km is. I think, if government wants to be sincere, there should be a sign indicating where the 20km starts from.
“Innocently,” he said, “some drivers drive into their traps and watch as their products are siphoned into waiting tankers and containers and driven off to be sold by these military people. This should stop. We are not in a Banana Republic,” he said.