Traders, revenue agents clash in Anambra


1 Jul 2016

Traders, revenue agents clash in Anambra

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Five persons sustained injury and property worth millions of naira destroyed during a fracas between traders and revenue agents at Electrical Dealers International Market on Thursday in Obosi near Onitsha, Anambra State.

Trouble started in the morning when the traders, numbering more than 300, protested to the office of the market’s Chairman, Benjamin Orji.

They accused the chairman of conniving with the revenue agents to extort money from them.

A trader, Uchenna Uchenowa, said: “Our grievance is that these agents collect money from us but write down a different amount in the receipts issued to us.

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“I was asked to pay N36,000 as tax, sanitation and development levies, but was surprisingly issued with N19,200 receipt and when I complained, they started harassing and threatening to beat me.

“This has been their way of extorting money from traders without the knowledge of the State Government.”

Another trader, Clement Nnabuife, said they were asked to pay tax and levies from 2013 till date.

According to Nnabuife: “We have been paying sanitation levies, but for over two years, no one has collected refuse from the market.”

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Chidi Ibagwa, former chairman of the market, said the payment system was against the instruction of the state government that all taxes and levies should be paid in the bank.

Ibagwa said: “The bone of contention is that some people are claiming ownership of the market and are using the state government’s authority to collect tax and levies from the people.

“Government should look into the matter to allow us re-organise ourselves and pay these taxes and levies appropriately.”

Ibagwa called on the state government to set up a panel of inquiry to ascertain the root cause of the crisis and ensure the conduct of free and fair election of market executives.

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Orji denied the allegation that he was conniving with the revenue agents to defraud traders.

“The state government sent people to collect revenue and in the process the traders started to attack the officials and destroyed cars and motorcycles around,” he said.

According to him, the revenue agents came under the directive of the Secretary to the State Government following a meeting that held between the executive of the market and the state government in Awka.

Orji denied the allegation that the traders were charged exorbitant rates, saying that the traders were asked to pay N7,400 as tax, sanitation and development levies for 12 months.

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Although the traders had deserted the market for fear of reprisal, police officers and security guards were positioned in the market to forestall further crisis.

The Police Public Relations Officer in the state, DSP Ali Okechukwu, said he was not disposed to speak on the matter at the moment.

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News Source: TODAYNG, 9jaTales

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