By; PAMELA EBOH, Awka
The Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C. Don Adinuba has said that ban on illegal tolls in markets in Anambra State would henceforth be enforced with greater vigor.
A statement made available to journalists in Awka, Adinuba regretted that despite measures and programmes put in place by the state government to make life better for the people, a number of criminally minded persons and groups have continued to devise all manner of methods to extort money from the unsuspecting public.
He observed that majority of victims of the extortions are the poorest in society.
The commissioner said that though the state is not alone in this unconscionable practice, the level of the extortion in the state is at hyper level.
The statement reads in part, “These criminals collect levies unknown to the government. Some of the tolls are called ground tolls, container tolls and wheel barrow tolls.
“Through these illegal tolls, importers, distributors and retailers are forced to pay huge amounts of money. Worse, buyers of their products are compelled to part with various sums to cart them from one place to another, even when the goods are not transported in carts. This practice has led some people to seek to do business outside the state.
“The extortionists claim that the tolls are obtained on behalf of the Anambra State Government. We would like to state for the umpteenth time that these tolls are not only illegal but also unconscionable.
Adinuba said that despite the recent recession when various governments in Nigeria introduced different revenue generating schemes in order to meet their basic responsibilities, Governor Willie Obiano instead introduced an economic stimulus package in a bold move to lessen the economic burden on the people.
While condemning the act as heartless for any group of people to harass hapless citizens going about their legitimate business for payment of so-called government tolls. the commissioner stated that all tolls charged against wheel barrow pushers, pitchers, petty traders, obstacle, land and container remain abolished by the Governor Obiano administration.
The statement added, “The state government hereby authorizes all security agencies in the state, especially the Nigeria Police Force, Department of State Security and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, to arrest all the culprits who make life difficult for our people, especially the less privileged, in the markets.
“The Anambra State Government is committed to the evolution of a more humane, caring and inclusive society. The government is also committed to promoting the ease of doing business in the state. We note with pride that Anambra State has in recent times recorded some notches in the ease of doing business. We will sustain the momentum.
“All those seeking private gains to the detriment of Anambra people and their collective future will have no place in the state any more. They must be made to feel the full weight of the law.”