By Moses Mbaiorga, Gboko
Following public outcry over illegal taxation and roadblocks, Almalgamated Benue Traders Organisation (OBTO), has constituted a taskforce team to help in putting the matter to rest.
According to the President of the association, Mr Alex Avakaa, the resolution to form a taskforce team that would assist the security agencies in tackling illegal road blocking, illegal tolls and taxes on the highways across the state was reached after due consultation with relevant stakeholders.
Mr Avakaa made this known during the official commissioning of taskforce on illegal road blocking and taxes on highways held recently at Old Barn Resorts Gboko, Benue state.
He explained that business activities in the state were hampered and if not addressed urgently, they will go down the drain as a result of continued exploitation by “numerous unauthorised persons mounting illegal road blocks both on federal highways and feeder roads, collecting illegal tolls and taxes.”
Mr Avakaa who acknowledged untiring efforts made by law enforcement agencies against illegal road blocking and the pronouncement by the National Economic Council and National Council on Agriculture in Abuja in 2017, disbanding illegal levies on agricultural produce and agro-allied products on highways, noted that the practice is unabated.
According to him, “illegal road blocking is an organized crime that should not be fought by members of the Nigeria Police Force alone,” noting that the task force will help bring the perpetrators to book as 34 illegal checkpoints have been crushed by the team already.
In their separate remarks, Ter Ushongo HRH Chief Augustine Kuma, represented by Tyoor Mbaagir, Zaki Stephen Nduul; Ter Gboko HRH Chief Gabriel Shosun, represented by Tyoor Mbatan, Zaki Ikpa Ahua and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Trade and Investment, Mr Stephen Abagi as well as Mr Isaac Mtu, the representative of the Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Timothy Ijir, have accepted the move by ABTO and promised their unreserved support.
Ter Ushongo, Chief Kuma, in particular advised the leadership of Benue traders to set boundaries for the taskforce team and always monitor them to ensure they are working in tandem with goals of the organization and for the common good of the society.
Responding on behalf of the team, the Chairman of the taskforce, Mr Bishop Goja, promised to selflessly discharge their duties without fear of favour.
ABTO is a conglomerate of 32 business associations in Benue state. It is duly registered under relevant authorities and has obtained operational mandate from the Benue state Registration of Business Places Edict, 1979, with a cardinal objective of coordinating business activities of members to enhance smooth trade and commerce for economic development.