Ogun Farmers Protest Customs Seizure Of N4million Pepper, Tomatoes - THE ENCOUNTER NEWS

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Monday, August 26, 2019

Ogun Farmers Protest Customs Seizure Of N4million Pepper, Tomatoes

The protesters wailing at the NUJ secretariat, Abeokuta
Michael-Azeez Ogunsiji
ABEOKUTA - Farmers in Ogun State on Monday protested the seizure of 2000 baskets of tomatoes and peppers claimed to have been planted and harvested in Ijoun area of Yewa north local government of the state by the operatives of the Nigerian Customs service.  

The farmers under the umbrella of Fruits and Vegetable Growers and Marketers Association of Nigeria, stormed the NUJ secretariat, Iwe-Irohin House, Abeokuta calling on federal government to release their farm produce.

The protesters armed with placards of different inscriptions such as; "we are farmers and not smugglers", "we didn't vote to be tortured", "Customs wants to kill us" among others.

THE ENCOUNTER NEWS reports that, the office of the National Security Adviser, ordered the Nigerian Customs Service, the Armed Forces of Nigeria as well as the Immigration Service and other intelligence agencies to embark on a joint border security exercise with code name, EX-SWIFT RESPONSE.

Speaking to newsmen, the Chairman of the association, Timothy Eweoba, explained that the customs has impounded eight vehicles carrying 250 baskets of tomatoes each, adding that a basket is sold for N2000 totally at N4,000,000.  

His words, "The reason we are here is that, some of our women, our traders on their way to the markets with their produce, the customs officials impounded their vehicles carrying their goods. 

"They are now auctioning it at their head office. They said it is a Federal government directive that the Customs should impound tomatoes and peppers planted in Nigeria. 

"Our goods are not imported at all. They were planted here in Nigeria. Our produce were impounded in Ijoun in Yewa North local government. 

"The cost of a basket is N2,000 and eight vehicles, comprising 250 baskets were impounded. 

"The goods were impounded yesterday (Sunday) evening and they are auctioning it now. We have been to the customs office where it was confirmed to us that our produce were being auctioned at N200 per basket.

"We want the government to come to our aid. We are not smugglers, these goods are not smuggled rice, they are tomatoes and peppers planted here in Ogun State." He added 

Also speaking, the Secretary of  Yewa/Awori Farm Produce Traders and Farmers Association, Mr Mathew Ajibawo, also added that the farm was about 60km away from the boarders reiterating that the goods are not contrabands. 

"Ijoun is about 60km to the border. All the tomatoes they seized, they searched our vehicles and no single rice or contrabands in our vehicles. We don't know why they didn't release them to us. 

"We have been to their office and the Customs officer we met at their headquarters said the order is from the above. The government should please come to our aid."

When contacted, the National Public Relations Officer, Nigerian Customs Service, Abuja, Mr. John Attah said the farm produce were impounded at the border line, saying the farmers should prove the seized farm produce were locally grown.

He said the seizure was parts of the federal government's directive to close the land and maritime borders.

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