Elected to Serve, Not to Cheat’: Cashew Farmers Warn Kogi Lawmaker

by Ohepo Ohepo

According to information made available to Kogi Reports, the Farmers Forum of Nigeria (FFN) has issued a stern warning to Hon. Akus Lawal, a representative of the Ankpa 1 constituency in the Kogi State House of Assembly, urging him to halt his alleged plans to exploit local farmers by confiscating their produce under the pretense of a contractual agreement with the state government for the collection of produce on behalf of the Kogi Internal Revenue Service.

In a robust statement delivered by the national spokesperson, Ibrahim Adama, the FFN strongly condemned the actions attributed to Hon. Akus, who is also associated with ANCO Engineering & General Services Consultants. The forum highlighted its shock and dismay at the significant increase in the Produce Inspection Department (PID) fee for cashew haulage within Kogi State, a move they see as a direct betrayal of the trust placed in Hon. Akus by his constituents.

The FFN emphasized the critical role of elected representatives in championing the rights and welfare of their constituents rather than exploiting them for personal gain. The forum also extended its appreciation to cashew dealers, stakeholders, and exporters for their patience and discipline in navigating the situation. They encouraged these parties to continue pursuing peaceful and constructive solutions to address the challenges posed by the increased PID fees and to protect the interests of local farmers against any forms of exploitation.

“Since its legislation and signing into law by former Governor Alhaji Yahaya Bello in 2022, the agreed-upon Kogi State official grading fee of ₦30,000 per truck has been arbitrarily increased to ₦110,000 per truck, divided into two receipts of ₦90,000 and ₦20,000 per truck.

“Cashew farmers, dealers, and exporters stand united against this exploitative practice, aimed at discouraging investment in the cashew industry and driving buyers away.

“Cashew, unlike cassava or yam, is primarily sold to foreign markets, and any policy that hinders trade will ultimately harm the farmers and the state’s economy,” the statement said.

The FFN also urged Governor Usman Ododo to intervene and restrain Hon Akus Lawal to prevent unnecessary conflict between the government and the farmers, who are integral to every family in Kogi state.

The forum also questioned the rationale behind a legislator being involved in tax collection, suggesting it stems from greediness rather than genuine concern for the welfare of the people.

“Akus and his associates have unlawfully seized over seventeen trucks loaded with our produce in Lokoja for four days, disregarding all pleas for reason,” stated the FFN.

Meanwhile, the FFN expressed gratitude to cashew dealers, stakeholders, and exporters for their restraint and urged them to continue seeking peaceful resolutions to these challenges.

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