Farmers in Kogi State, represented by the Farmers Forum of Nigeria, have expressed concern about plans to hike the cost of agricultural goods from 30,000 to 90,000 Nigerian naira.
The assembly urged Kogi State's governor, Usman Ododo, to put an end to the practice of imposing several taxes as it risks making the state an object of ridicule.
The representative of the group, Barrister Ibrahim Adam, appealed to the state authorities to cease their oppressive tax practices, expressing their inability to continue tolerating the extensive taxes imposed on them within the state.
The assembly urged President Bola Tinubu to instruct the agriculture ministry to tackle the issue of excessive taxation, asserting that the situation has become unbearable for them.
The Farmers Forum is a collaborative network established by dedicated agriculturalists with the goal of enhancing Nigeria's agricultural standards, refining the farming methodology, and reviving agriculture as a foundational source of wealth for communities and individuals, reminiscent of its historical significance.
The announcement stated that Kogi State's Produce Inspection Department (PID) imposes the nation's steepest fee for inspecting each truck, costing 30,000 naira, in stark contrast to significantly more affordable rates in other states including Kano, Gombe, Katsina, Yobe, among others.
As though the current situation were not challenging enough, the state’s tax authority has opted to increase the taxes on cashew products to a total of N90,000. The specific charges are distributed as N30,000 for Kogi PID, N5,000 for each of Kano PID, Gombe PID, and Bauchi PID, N3,000 for both Katsina PID and Jigawa PID, N2,000 for Yobe PID, N20,000 for each of Nasarawa PID and Oyo PID, N25,000 for Benue PID, N10,000 for each of Niger PID and Osun PID, N4,000 for Yola PID, and finally N7,000 for Kaduna PID.
"The list of additional, unexplained charges levied upon cashew purchasers in Kogi State includes a series of taxes: an interstate fee (also known as a haulage fee) of 13,000, an IML charge of 5,000, a fee for loading and unloading of 12,000, a pass charge of 5,000, a state environmental fee of 6,000, a local government environmental fee of 5,000, and a charge by the local government's department of 10,000."
"These charges are imposed by the Kogi State Board of Internal Revenue. Furthermore, there are a great number of checkpoints operating under the guise of agricultural product inspection, where drivers and purchasers transporting cashew products from the farms to the sales warehouses are subjected to extortion and harassment."
"Some boys have gone as far as to arm themselves with firearms and various hazardous weapons, intimidating the tourists," Adam emphasized. He also called on the state authorities to put an end to the numerous taxes which, in his opinion, turn Kogi into a bigger joke.
He urged the Kogi State government to quickly take control of its own revenue-generating department and to rethink its strategy to introduce additional taxes on cashew products.
Adams stated that the current plans go against the principle of facilitating business activities, discourage overseas purchasers and investors, and disadvantage the farmers. He noted that in Kogi State, buyers of cashews and other international parties are particularly affected by the heavy imposition of various taxes. Moreover, the tax load on cashew farmers, who are in need of support during the harvesting season, is intensified by the local government's policies.
Kogi State cashew purchasers are subject to several inexplicable charges that essentially amount to double taxation. These include fees for traveling between states, costs for loading and unloading goods, charges for passes, environmental fees imposed by state and local governments, and miscellaneous fees from various local government departments.
"These taxes are set by the Kogi State Board of Internal Revenue, and the problem is worsened by the many checkpoints staffed by people who assert they're representing the government."
The unwarranted pestering of cashew producers and purchasers by these people is obstructing the cashew trade in Kogi State.
"We appeal to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and other national government bodies, including the ministry of agriculture, to step in and persuade the state authorities to put an end to these charges. These levies are resulting in unnecessary suffering for the residents, most of whom rely on cashew farming and commerce for their livelihood. Kogi State should not be singled out when compared to other cashew-producing regions like Enugu, Niger, Edo, Benue, and Nasarawa."