Zamfara officials stop 50 trucks laden with assorted grains heading for Niger Republic

MEN of the Zamfara State Transport Agency (Zarto) have stopped 50 trucks conveying foodstuffs out of the country to neighbouring Niger Republic as part of a clampdown on traders seeking to exploit the ongoing scarcity across the country.


Nigeria is currently reeling from the impact of chronic hyper-inflation, with the cost of basic food prices soaring and rising on a daily basis. Some economists have put the crisis down to President Bola Tinubu's decision to abolish petrol subsidies, which they say resulted in higher transport costs, which had a knock-on effect in other sectors of the economy.


To ameliorate the problem, President Tinubu is said to have issued a presidential directive meant to clamp down hoarding, which is what the Zamfara operatives used to stop the truck loaded with assorted grains heading for Niger Republic. Last Thursday President Tinubu ordered national security adviser Nuhu Ribadu, inspector-general of police Kayode Egbetokun, and the director-general of the Department of State Services, Yusuf Bichi, to collaborate with state governors and go after those hoarding foodstuffs.


On Sunday, the Nigeria Customs Service said it stopped 15 trailers conveying foodstuff through the border in Sokoto State to Niger Republic. Also, the Kano State government recently sealed 10 warehouses said to be hoarding food items.


Zarto  spokesman Sale Shinkafi, said:  “Our men intercepted 50 vehicles loaded with assorted grains while trying to smuggle them out of the country. We directed the owners to go back and sell the commodities to Nigerians at the appropriate prices.”


He explained that the trucks were not accompanied by the agency’s officials but were only directed to return to their respective localities and sell the commodities at affordable prices. Shakin Agbayewa, the vice chairman of the All Farmers Association of Nigeria, said wholesalers were purchasing large quantities of food from local farmers and clandestinely taking these products to countries such as Niger, Cameroon and others.


Mr Agbayewa  said the practice not only deprived the local market of essential food supplies but also undermined the efforts of Nigerian farmers. He alleged that wholesalers, driven by greed were disrupting the domestic food supply chain and negatively impacting the livelihoods of farmers across the nation.


 “So, what these people do is to buy farm produce from us in large quantities, store them in a warehouses and ship them outside the country. They usually earn foreign exchange, they make more money going through this route,” Mr Agbayewa added.


He accused these wholesalers of creating artificial demand in the market while simultaneously sabotaging the economy. Mr Agbayewa called for enhanced oversight and regulatory measures to tackle these exploitative practices and protect the interests of local farmers.


Kabir Ibrahim the national President of All Farmers Association of Nigeria, lauded the Nigerian Customs Service for recently intercepting trucks of food. He recommended that smugglers should be prosecuted and be made to serve life imprisonment.