By Dayo Johnson
MEMBERS of the Flitchers Association in Ondo State recently 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 states, was disrupted for hours as the protesters blocked the highway thereby causing temporary hardship for commuters.
The protesters who 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 Ogun State Government; Stop Attacking Our Trucks; Abiodun Call Your Men to Order; Enough of Harassment by Ogun State Tax Collectors; Stop Illegal Ticketing; Stop Unlawful Arrests of Our People by Ogun State Agents, among others.
Speaking with newsmen, Chairman of the Flitchers Association, Mr. Aro David, alleged that officials of the Ogun State Government collect money from them while driving through Ogun State to Lagos.
David said: “While the Ondo State Government, from where the planks emanated, collects only N7,000 at Produce Post, Ogun State Government officials, that are supposed to collect only N3,000, ended up extorting over N35,000 from us under various headings.
“We have been subjected at various times to 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 Governor Dapo Abiodun to call these collectors and consultants to order.
“These planks originated from Ondo and Edo states and our colleagues in Edo State are also complaining that Ogun State which is just a passage, 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 correct this illegality and do what is right. Should government fail to address our grievances, it will strain the relationship between Ondo and Ogun states and we are ready for the confrontation.”