You’re Chosen to Serve, Not to Defraud Us, Cashew Farmers Tells Kogi Assembly Member

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By Abubakar Yunusa.

The Farmers Forum of Nigeria (FFN) has called on Hon. Akus Lawal, the member representing Ankpa 1 constituency in the Kogi State House of Assembly, to cease plans to extort local farmers of their hard-earned produce under the guise of a contract agreement with the state government to collect produce for Kogi internal revenue service.

In a statement signed by the national spokesperson of the forum, Ibrahim Adama, the FFN stated that it is unacceptable for an elected representative to betray the trust of his constituents by exploiting them instead of advocating for their rights.

The forum said it found it appalling that Hon Akus, operating under ANCO Engineering & General Services Consultants, has raised the produce inspection department (PID) fee for cashew haulage in Kogi State.

“Since its legislation and signing into law by former Governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello in 2022, the agreed-upon Kogi State official grading fee of ₦30,000 per truck has been arbitrarily increased to ₦110,000 per truck, divided into two receipts of ₦90,000 and ₦20,000 per truck.

“Cashew farmers, dealers, and exporters stand united against this exploitative practice, aimed at discouraging investment in the cashew industry and driving buyers away. 

“Cashew, unlike cassava or yam, is primarily sold to foreign markets, and any policy that hinders trade will ultimately harm the farmers and the state’s economy,” the statement said.

The FFN also urged Governor Usman Ododo to intervene and restrain Hon Akus Lawal to prevent unnecessary conflict between the government and the farmers, who are integral to every family in Kogi state. 

The forum also questioned the rationale behind a legislator being involved in tax collection, suggesting it stems from greediness rather than genuine concern for the welfare of the people.

“Akus and his associates have unlawfully seized over seventeen trucks loaded with our produce in Lokoja for four days, disregarding all pleas for reason,” stated the FFN.

Meanwhile, the FFN expressed gratitude to cashew dealers, stakeholders, and exporters for their restraint and urged them to continue seeking peaceful resolutions to these challenges.

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