Imo state government on Tuesday impounded about 50 trucks conveying food items and pharmacutical products to other states in apparent disregard to presidential directives that such vehicle be given a safe passage during the current lockdown.
This is even as the task force of Board for Internal Revenue levied a fined of N50,000 on the drivers of the trucks for violating the order of the state.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari in his first address to the nation had stated that vehicles conveying food items and pharmacuticals should be allowed free passage across the country during this lockdown.
However, the Imo State government through the Board of Internal Revenue task force impounded the trucks passing through the state for contravening the lockdown order of the state government.
On Tuesday, over 50 trucks conveying various essential food items were impounded and packed at the premises of the Imo International Conference Centre (IICC) with each of them compelled to pay the sum of N50,000 to the state government.
Louis Chikalue, one of the drivers of the truck conveying beverages for Nestle Company told journalists that their vehicles were impounded despite the drivers showing the task force members the authorisation pass from the federal government.
According to him, “a member of the task force told us that even though we had federal pass, we should equally obtain Imo State government pass because the government was looking for revenue. Some of us who have perishable items have been begging them to collect N20,000 to release us but, they are insisting on N50,000. We have never really been faced with this kind of problem before”, Louis said.
Similarly, another driver, who simply identified himself as Oluwatosin, said: “I am conveying pharmaceutical products to Aba and when we got to Mgbidi around 6.30 pm, soldiers there stopped us from entering into the state with a reason that there is dusk-to-dawn curfew in the state.
“In the morning of Tuesday, we headed to Owerri and these task force people impounded our vehicles.
“I brought out a carton of sanitizers and they opened it and even took used one. Yet, they still impounded my truck demanding initially N100,000 before their leader, one Ayozie reduced it to N50, 000 despite knowing that… As you can see me now, what my company gave me and my conductor is N10,000 for feeding and we are expected to return back latest in three days”.
As of Wednesday morning, all the 50 vehicles impounded on Tuesday were released at the cost of the N30,000 each while about 20 more trucks were impounded on Wednesday.
When our correspondent contacted Chief Ayozie at the Board of Internal Revenue, Owerri, he said the trucks were impounded for contravening the law of the state.
Ayozie, who is in charge of the board’s enforcement unit, said he was made the chairman of the task force by Governor Hope Uzodimma through the chairman of the board, Mr. Emma Ononaku.
However, when the chairman of the Imo state Board of Internal Revenue was contacted he disowned the activities of the task force, saying they might have been commissioned from the Government House.