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Timber sellers in Bauchi protests, close markets indefinitely, allege extortion, oppression by hunters’ group (Photos)

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Timber sellers in Bauchi State on Monday embarked on a peaceful protest within the main timber market at the Muda Lawal market, Bauchi to express their displeasure at alleged oppression, extortion and maltreatment by government officials.

The protest has led to all timber markets across Bauchi State to be shut down indefinitely over the situation they found themselves in.

Chairman of Timber Sellers Association, Igbo branch, Barr Maduabuchi Okonkwo declared that they were forced to take the hard decision because there was no alternative left for them.

The Chairman said that in the last 4 months, 14 vehicles loaded with woods had been arrested and detained by the hunters and had to be bailed by the members a development he said was making life very difficult for them considering that they were not making much gains due to the increase in transportation cost.

According to him, members were losing not less than N3m daily each time a vehicle loaded with woods is arrested by the hunters.

According to him, “the essence of the protest is that, for a long time Bauchi State Government stopped the sawing of wood in Bauchi forests so we decided to be going to the East to buy our wood.”

He added that, “But when we come back to Bauchi, the same government that stopped us from sawing wood in the state will still stop our wood and be giving us different reasons and asking us different questions.”

According to him, “And after that they seize our wood, after seizing our woods, and charge us to court and fine us, that is what we are protesting against. We are not sawing these woods from Bauchi State, we are sawing it from the East and mellaina tree is not found anywhere in Bauchi state unless in the forest.”

Okonkwo added that, ”We are getting mellaina from Benue, Anambra, Kogi States, in fact all over the East but for the North, it is only in Taraba and close to Cameroon, not in Bauchi state. Bauchi State Government has outlawed sawing woods and we have since stopped in order to obey their laws, yet, they are arresting our vehicles with woods.”

READ ALSO: Suspected kidnappers reportedly kill vigilante, abduct 4 others in Bauchi

He also said that the Hunters Association are the group arresting and detaining their vehicles loaded with woods and always fining them huge sums of money which he did not disclose before releasing their vehicles.

”We have been stressed and stretched so much, now we are saying, enough is enough, we can no longer bear it, we can no longer tolerate it, let them stop arresting our vehicles loaded with woods, let them stop holding our materials which we bought with our legitimate money. That is the reason you saw all of us here for a peaceful demonstration in Bauchi.”

Asked what they actually want from the Government, he said that,”We want Government to warn the people that are disturbing us, let them stop arresting and holding our woods and the vehicles. We are pleading to the Governor, Sen Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir to intervene. You can see that we are not violent, we are not cursing anyone but only pleading with the Governor to tell the hunters to stop tormenting us.”

According to him,”From today, all timber markets in Bauchi state have been closed down indefinitely because we do not close the markets that means automatically what they are doing, we are happy. We are closing the market until they listen to us. Until then, the markets remain closed.”

Also speaking, the Chairman of the Hausa section of the Timber Association, Ayuba Abubakar alleged that on each vehicle arrested, they pay not less than N150,000 to get it released.

The members of the association during the peaceful protest within the market, displayed placards with different inscriptions.

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