The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, on Thursday, blamed men of the Nigeria Police Force, the Army and Nigeria Customs Service for the high prices of food in the country.
He said that those officers attached to series of roadblocks in the country cause high cost of food through unbearable extortions from truck drivers conveying farm produce to various urban centres.
The minister told the Senate and House of Representatives Joint Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development at the National Assembly, that the factors responsible for high cost of food prices in the country, “is the daily unbearable extortions men of the Nigeria Police, their counterpart in the Army and Customs Service visited on truck drivers conveying farm produce from the hinterland to urban centres, under the guise of carrying out security checks”.
He added:“These truck drivers based on raw lamentations made to the Ministry in recent time, alleged that, at every check points, they are always forced to part with reasonable amount of money by any group of the security agencies, which they said, made farmers to have no option than to factor cost of the extortion into prices of the food items”.
The Minister explained further to the committee members that, based on the complaints by the truck drivers, his ministry wrote to the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris and heads of other security agencies, to dissuade their operatives from the act, but daily reports available to the ministry still show that such motorists are still being extorted.
He also cited high cost of diesel, which now sells for N300 per litre, as another factor responsible for the skyrocketing prices of food items in the country, since according to him; trucks conveying farm produce are powered by diesel.
Ogheh added to the list of alleged factors responsible for high prices of food items in the country by, submitting that, the treaty on free movement of goods and services put in place by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) among member states, gives room for movement of not less than 300,000 trucks of grains outside Nigeria on daily basis, which the ministry cannot check.