Protest in Ogun Community over alleged extortion by agents of Ogun IRS - THE LIVING GUIDE

Protest in Ogun Community over alleged extortion by agents of Ogun IRS

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By Our Correspondent

Hundreds of peasant farmers in Oba, a town in Obafemi Owode local government area of Ogun State on Friday took to the street to protest against the extortion by some agents who claimed to be representing the Ogun State Internal revenue service, IRS by issuing a ticket of Five hundred naira on each of the products brought to the market for sale by the farmers.

The protesters also claimed that the IRS agent also charged each commercial motorcycle (Okada) that transported the farm products the same amount claiming that the money serves as personal income tax for the farmers.

Speaking to Our Correspondent, the spokes person for the farmers, Mr Najeemdeen Oladipupo, a farmer from Akogun village in Oba area of the local government, said they represent about 45 villagers in Oba Community who specializes in the planting of food crops in order to feed their families 

Akogun narrated that early this month, some people came to them that from October 11 this year "we would be paying Five hundred naira on every products brought to the market for sale as a form of personal income tax and traders association levy".

"We were confused because we did not see any justification for the payment, many of us are peasant farmers, we are not Alajapa (Traders), so telling us to obtain Five hundred Naira ticket as levy is a step too high by government.

We took our plight to the Baale and Chiefs in the town, they asked questions from those 'government' representative, but findings show that government may not have given them that instructions.

In order to avoid break down of law and order, we also went to the local government to ask about the veracity of the payment, but the local government said they were not aware also 

"This people on October 13th, this year came to waylay us on our way from the farm, stopped all Okada transporting vegetables and other farm produce to the market, forcing them to pay five hundred naira each.

It was also surprising that they can asked you to pay as many times as you ply that road, saying that the ticket is meant for just a trip, failure which they will seized your wares and beat you up 

We are men of peace, we don't want any breakdown of law and order. Farmers here are going through hard time, the little we used to feed our immediate family are now been denied by some hoodlums who claimed to be representing government.

The question we are asking them is of what benefit is the money we were told to pay, we don't have good roads to transport our farm products to the market, no assistance coming to us from government in form of subsvention, and when we get to market, we will also obtain another ticket meant for the local government on ordinary vegetables,  we only rely on Okada and bicycle as mean of transportation, some of us only brought vegetables that the total money if sold may not be up to N600 to the market, yet government want to collect all the money all in the name of personal income tax.

Also speaking, Baale Oba Eerin, Chief Oladeinde Akeem who is also Lisa Igbore, said the Eeguns who are pepper growers in the town came to report two people, One Femi Farounbi and Maria Adebokun, a.k.a. Iyalode. of forcing them to obtain a ticket for every baskets of pepper they brought to the market for sale saying that the directive came from government.

Chief Oladeinde called on government to wade into the matter before it goes out of hands.

When Our Correspondent called on Femi Farounbi, he said the directive came from government. 

Farounbi revealed that the struggle to hamonise all levies being paid by farmers and Alajapas in their bid to transport their wares for sale has been on some years ago.

We tried it during the last administration in the State, it failed, then we were paying about  Two thousand naira or more to different agents before we could be able to get to our final destination where we want to sell those farm produce, but when this government came, we approached them again, and it was resolved that the money for government should be three hundred naira, and Alajapa association should be two hundred naira.

We all agreed and that was the money they are supposed to pay.

Also a leader of Alajapa Association, Akin Akindele said the government gave them directive that every farmer that will be transporting products that is above certain degree should pay.

"If it's only ten bunches of plantain you are taking to market, nobody will ask you to pay anything, but if you are transporting about fifty and above, you must pay because with that you are an Alajapa or farmers trader.

He insisted that the directive was from the Ogun State Internal revenue service.

But speaking to Our Correspondent, a Senior government official who pleaded for anonymity, said government was not part of the ticketing. 

He said the actions of those collecting tolls from the farmers are illegal and government frowns at it.

He directed that the people should inform the police whenever they were told to pay such levies again, while the Ministry of finance will prosecute them.

"Their claim is fake, the community and the farmers should hand them over to the police, We are interested in the case, some people are already in jail for similar thing, Ministry of Finance will prosecute them".

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