By Rita Okonkwo
Amansea (Awka North), Aug. 14, 2018 (MOI) Seven suspected illegal revenue collectors have been nabbed at Old Garki, Amansea on the old Enugu-Onitsha road for extortion and violent attacks on lorry drivers.
The suspects were apprehended by men of the Department Security Service (DSS) on the directive of the Anambra State Commissioner for Trade and Commerce, Dr Christian Madubuko.
The gang consisting of six men and a lady were caught at the Amansea road collecting what they called “produce fees’’ and “Commerce and Industry fees’’ from lorry drivers passing through the state.
The commissioner expressed his dismay at activity of the illegal collectors, especially after the state government had cautioned the people to desist from molesting and extorting lorry drivers.
They were said to have mounted unauthorised road blocks on the road attacking lorry drivers and extorting them.
Commissioner for Environment, Mr Michael Okonkwo, who also condemned the ugly trend, noted that some people also collect sanitation fees illegally from Ndi Anambra.
He vowed that the Ministry of Environment would facilitate the arrest and prosecution of anyone caught in such acts.
Okonkwo called on Ndi Anambra to be cautious in making payments.
“There are legitimate authority letters that have been centralised to be issued through the office of the Chief of Staff, nominating authorised agents to operate as revenue collectors for Government,’’ he told the public.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Trade and Commerce, Mr Daniel Chibueze Okoli noted that Anambra had zero tolerance for illegal collection of government revenues – produce, commerce and sanitation fees.
“Anambra State Government has not granted authority to agents for such revenue collection this year.’’
Special Assistant to the Governor on Market Affairs, Mr Sunday Nwasah said the suspects produced a register they claimed to have used for making payments into government accounts.
However, the records showed that unauthorized private individuals received the collections.
Nwasah said the Ministry received similar distress call a previous week from Bridge Head, Onitsha that some unidentified agents extorted N30, 000 from each lorry driver that entered Onitsha.
“On reaching the scene, they saw us and fled,’’ he said.
He expressed regret that criminal activities perpetrated by those men tarnish the good image of Anambra State Government.
He, then, called on members of the public to report anyone seen collecting such fees anywhere across the state.
One of the suspects who identified himself simply as “State Coordinator’’ Nigeria Lorry Drivers Association (NILODA), Mmaduka from Ukpo in Anambra State, confessed that he illegally collected revenue with his men at Amansea.
He claimed that the Commissioner for Agriculture authorised the collection of the fees.
However, Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr Afam Mbanefor, promptly denied the the allegation when his attention was drawn to the statement by the suspect. (MOI)