COVID-19: Food sellers accuse Govt Task Force of extortion
Matthew Ochei, Asaba
Traders on the designated primary and secondary school premises have expressed displeasure over alleged extortion by the Oshimili South Local Government task force officials.
The traders accused the task officials of forcefully collecting levy for space.
The state governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, earlier announced that food items and water would be sold at the designated primary and secondary school in each local government area of the state and supervised by the council chairmen to ensure compliance with social distancing.
Traders at the Oshimili South Acade, Okwe Primary School and others in Asaba metropolis described the levy being collected from them on a daily basis by the council task force as wicked.
They called on the governor to come to their aid to cushion the effect of the lockdown.
City Round learnt that each trader was charged between N400 and N600 daily depending on the quantity of the food items.
A trader, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said, “I am selling only plantain that is not up to N3, 000 and they collected N400 from me and N600 from others.
“We begged them (the task force officials) to be patient with us to make sales before paying the levy but they refused and seized our goods. We have to look for money to pay before they released them.’’
Another trader urged the governor to prevail on the task force to stop collecting money during this period.
“The government who asked us to come sell foodstuff is the same one collecting money from us. How much is our profit that somebody and collect N600 from us at levy? We are just managing to sell food items to enable people to eat because of the sit-at-home order,” she added.
The Chairman, Oshimili South Local Government Area, Mr Uche Osadebe denied the allegation, saying “stop giving wrong information.”
But the leader of the task force, Mr Chikwuma Ajufor, said the money collected was for service charge.
“The place is owned by the local government and you can see that the place is littered with vegetable leaves and other things. The money will be used to dispose of waste. That is why the council asked us to collect the levy,” he said.