Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL), has condemned in strong terms the imposition of high prices on food items in Abia by food unions during the lockdown.
They said that the astronomical hike in prices of food items by market unions in Aba and other markets within Abia was injurious to the health of poor residents and to the economy as well.
The group said that a situation “where people prey on their fellow citizens in a time of crises is worse than witchcraft and must be stopped by government”.
This was contained in a press release signed by Chief Goodluck Ibem and Dr Kanice Igwe, the President-General and Secretary-General of COSEYL respectively.
The release was made available to Newsmen in Aba.
“On Monday 30th March, 2020 a man brought in a full trailer load of garri into Allen market zone of Ariaria International market.
“He asked the Garri Union members of the Market who are the only ones authorised (by their union) to sell any garri that comes into the market, to sale the garri at N14, 000 per bag.
“But the Union told the owner of the garri that the garri which he brought to the market for sale at lower rates must be sold for N35,000 per bag and that there is nothing anyone can do about it.
“With this wicked act, it is clear now that the market Union have ascribed to itself powers above those of the Executive Governor of Abia State by implementing decisions that are contrary to the governor’s decision.
“This act is absurd and chaotic and should not be allowed to stand in Abia or anywhere in Nigeria because it is inhuman to act in such a manner especially in a time when coronavirus is ravaging nations and destroying people’s income”, they wrote.
COSEYL said that the arbitrary exercise of powers of such unions to the detriment of law-abiding citizens portends danger as it could result in starving to death by citizens.
The body noted that if people were deprived of food during the lockdown many states including Abia have embarked on now to check coronavirus infections, another kind of disease may develop from it.
“These ugly situations must not be allowed to stand otherwise Abia state residents may experience sicknesses caused by hunger, resulting in untimely deaths and an increase in crimes after the lockdown.
“The Governor must dissolve these wicked and egocentric markets unions whose aims and purpose is to ensure that Abians suffer and starve to death.
“This is the height of wickedness exibited by these so called food unions.
“As a group mandated by the people to speak for them, we will not fold our hands and watch wicked and egocentric Food Union leaders to exploit hapless and helpless people because of the lockdown”, they said.
The group therefore called on Abia government, Commissioner for Trade and Investment, the Abia State Price Regulatory Board and the Taskforce Committee for Covid -19 to immediately stop these acts of wickedness.
They also demanded immediate dismantling of all food unions in Abia and and prosecution of those found culpable for exploiting and extorting hapless and helpless people because of the lockdown.