By Trust Eziokwu Nwankwo
A large number of industrialists in the popular Abakaliki Rice Mill Company Ltd., on Tuesday morning 18th May 2021 embarked on a peaceful demonstration over alleged numerous taxations which they are being subjected to, by management of the company.
It was gathered that both the millers and other workers are being subjected to the following payments: N370 being an amount to be paid firstly by any farmer per bag before the person could be allowed to bring in his paddy rice into the mill for processing.
Another N370 would allegedly be paid per bag after processing while ordinary empty bag which before now was sold at N150 per unit suddenly skyrocketed to N300 per one.
One of the protesters, Mr. Irem Bernard, told journalists that: “Abakaliki Rice Mill since 1950 has been a place where we feed the whole nation but nowadays, it is only one family that is enjoying and based on the situation, nothing is moving fine here anymore because of bad leadership.
“My machine has broken down several times because of adulterated gas, additionally, the leadership imposes fake empty bags on us that immediately one puts his rice it will tear while the farm produce will pour on the ground,” he lamented.
Another person, Mr. Theodore Eneh, a buyer that comes from Ogbete Main Market in Enugu State who was stranded as he could not buy rice following the protest, claimed that some of his colleagues had earlier stopped patronizing Abakaliki Rice Mill and currently, they buy from Northern part of the country because of multiple taxation.
When contacted for reaction, the Caretaker Committee Chairman of the Mill, Mr Ogodo Samuel, said that the protesters were free to express their feelings.
“The most important thing is that it is being carried out within the frame of legality. People who are trying to express themselves by asking for this and that, I do not think that there is anything bad about it. Since we have not recorded any causalities or found anybody being hurt in anyway, it is just a peaceful protest.
“One of the reasons according to sources is the issue of revenue that we are paying, which is on the higher side, even though, it is not true as the case may be, because every organization has a little token which will be remitted to the government as the case may be.” he said.