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Hundreds of peasant farmers in Oba, a town in Obafemi-Owode local government area of Ogun State have taken to the street to protest against the alleged extortion by some agents representing the Ogun State Internal revenue service.
The IRS agents were accused of issuing a ticket of N500 on each on 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 on behalf of the farmers, Najeemdeen Oladipupo, a farmer from Akogun village in Oba area of the local government, said they represent about 45 villagers in Oba Community who specialize in the planting of food crops in order to feed their families
Oladipupo narrated that early October, some people came to them that from October 11 this year they would be asking us to be paying N500 on every product brought to the market for sale as a form of personal income tax and traders association levy.
He said “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 N500 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’ representatives, but findings showed 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 it was not aware also
“These 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 seize 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 being 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 his attention was brought to the development through some farmers .
He said one Femi Farounbi and Maria Adebokun, a.k.a. Iyalode. were accused of forcing them to obtain a ticket for every basket 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 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.