Edo State, the state governor, comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has urged all aspirants and party leaders of Action Congress Of Nigeria (ACN) in the state to shun riotous rally and every form of hooliganism as anyone found parading thugs will be expelled from the party.
The warning was given yesterday while addressing party leaders from the 18 local government councils of the state in Benin City, describing the recent cases of killing that were connected with the party as a sad development.
On the recent violence at Ora ward, in Ovia north east local government area, during which lives were lost, Mr. Oshiomhole said preliminary investigation by the police reveal that thugs were hired to disrupt the registration exercise and that the police engaged them in a shoot-out.
“Any aspirant whose loyalists are involved in gangsterism will be disqualified. Even if we have to behave like the godfathers, we will do it. Anybody who parades thugs is an enemy of ACN,” he said.
The governor said the membership registration was to build the strength of the party and return power to the people.
He said more cards will be provided after the initial 200,000 cards have been exhausted, but wondered why any party leader would be hoarding cards.
He also debunked allegation that only those registered first would be eligible to vote at the primaries, adding that he himself was yet to register in his ward.
Meanwhile, there is fresh crisis in Edo State agricultural sector as cocoa farmers in the state rejected new government taxes and levies to be paid by cocoa dealers, saying it was meant to kill the sector.
The cocoa farmers, in a communique issued at the end of their meeting and signed by the state chairman, Okhide Aigbe, said they were not happy with “the incessant manner in which government increases registration fee annually, the extortion of our members by government agencies and the National Road Transport Workers on road collection.”
They also alleged that the high taxes and levies being imposed by the state government have discouraged cocoa dealers from neighbouring states like Ondo from coming to trade with them in Edo State.
The farmers said that the state government had increased monthly revenue generation from cocoa to N100 million, adding that “excessive tax regime is anti-people, and capable of ruining the cocoa business in the state.”
The state commissioner for agriculture and natural resources, Tunde Lakoju, said the new tax regime was meant to boost the resources of the state, but added that the state government also created provisions for negotiation and dialogue between the government and stakeholders.
“The cocoa farmers have not been isolated or singled out for destruction. The new policies cover the entire state and all sectors,” he said.
“The magnitude of work before the state government is enormours.
The laws, as they regard taxation, must be followed. It is not a punitive measure, but a civic process to move the state forward,” he further said.