The popular Abakaliki Rice Mill Company Ltd was on Tuesday shut following a peaceful protest by workers and millers over alleged multiple taxation and other related ill-treatment meted on them by the leadership of the company.
It was gathered that the sum of N370 is allegedly being collected from farmers per bag before they bring in their paddy rice into the mill for processing by the leadership of the company.
The farmers added that another N370 is also charged per bag before the rice is allowed to be taken after processing.
The protesters maintained that an empty bag use in bagging the rice after processing which is supposed to be sold for N150 goes for N300 in the company.
One of the protesters, Irem Bernard, told journalists that: “Abakaliki Rice Mill since 1950 is a place where we feed the whole nation, but today, only one family is enjoying, nothing is moving fine here anymore because the mill has been in bad leadership.
“My machine has broken down several times because of adulterated gas here and they imposed bags on us that immediately you put rice into it, it will tear and the rice will pour on the ground,” he lamented.
Another person Theodore Eneh, a buyer from Ogbete Main Market, Enugu, who was stranded and couldn’t buy rice following the protest, said his colleagues have stopped patronizing Abakaliki Rice Mill and are now buying in the North because of multiple taxation.
When contacted for reaction, the caretaker Committee Chairman of the mill, Ogodo Samuele, said the protesters were free to express their feelings.
“The most important thing is that it is being carried out within the frame of legality. People trying to express themselves while asking this and that, I don’t think that there is anything bad about it. Since we have not recorded any causalities or anybody hurt in anyway. It is just a peaceful protest.
“One of the reasons according to sources is the issue of revenue that we are paying, which is on the higher side, even though, it is not true as the case may be, because every organization has a little token you give government as the case may be.”