…If flitching is legal in Ondo, it is illegal in Ogun- Forestry commissioner replies
By Dayo Johnson
Members of the Ondo State Flitchers Association yesterday barricaded the Benin/ Ore/Lagos Expressway in protest against alleged illegal extortion.
They accused officials of Ogun State government of extortion in the name of collecting revenue from them while transporting planks and teak wood through Ogun State.
Traffic at Ajebandele, the Produce Control Post between Ondo and Ogun State was disrupted for hours as the protesters blocked the highway thereby causing temporary hardship for commuters.
The protesters displayed placards with various inscriptions, alleged that many of their members have suffered physical assaults from agents of the Ogun State Government, at any slight provocation.
The placards read: Enough of Harassment from Ogun State; Enough of Illegal Charges by Ogin State Government; Stop Attacking Our Trucks; Abiodun Call Your Men to Day; Enough of Harassment by Ogun State Tax Collector; Stop Illegal Ticketing; Stop Unlawful Arrest of Our People by Ogun State Agents, among others.
Speaking with newsmen journalists, the Chairman of the Flitchers Association, Mr Aro David, alleged that officials of the Ogun State Government, collect money from them up to five times while driving through Ogun State to Lagos.
David said money are collected from them under various headings as Community Ticket, Local Government Ticket, Environmental Ticket, Parking Space at various points on the Expressway.
“While Ondo State Government from where the planks emanated collects only N7,000 only at Produce Post, Ogun State Government officials, that are suppose to collect only N3,000, ended up extorting over N35,000 from us under various headings.
“We have been subjected to various times and physical harassment whenever we tried to explain things to these illegal tax collectors on the Federal Government Expressway.
“My members in Ondo State can no longer tolerate these illegalities and we are calling on the Governor Dapo Abiodun to call these collectors and consultants to order.
“These planks originated from Ondo and Edo State and our colleagues in Eso State are also complaining Ogun State that is just a passage to us collect N35,000 while the owner of the planks, collects maximum of N10,000 only. This is barbaric and cheating. We are going to resist this.
“We hereby give Ogun State Government ultimatum of seven days, to collect this illegality and do what is right. Should government failed to address our grievances, it will strain the relationship between Ondo and Ogun State and we are ready for the confrontation.”
The secretary of the association, Aro Sunday said that despite getting their logs from Ondo State, the Ondo State Government has never imposed heavy fines on them but the has been using the federal highway to extort them.
In a swift reaction, the Ogun State Commissioner for Forestry, Mr Tunji Akinosi said the flitchers had been trespassing into the state, saying flitching was illegal in Ogun State.
Akinosi said , “If flitching is legal in Ondo, it is illegal in Ogun. If you saw planks in Ogun State, it is better you sell in your state, if you cross it to our state, the planks would be seized and the vehicle would also be seized.
” We have been seizing and they had been coning to beg but this month, we have made up our minds that any vehicle seized in connection with illegality.”