FOOD distributors in northern Nigeria have resumed shipments to the south of the country after four days of disruptions following the ongoing Fulani herdsmen saga after it became too costly to maintain the embargo as they were losing up to N10bn ($26.13m) a week.
Over the weekend, the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria (AUFCDN) decided to stop the transportation of food items to the south of the country in the hope to maintain an economic blockage. Describing the action as a strike, the body said it took the action following the federal government’s failure to address the alleged killings of its members in parts of the country.
Over recent weeks, there has been tension in southwest Nigeria over the actions of Fulani cattle herdsmen and in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, things recently spilled over at Shasha Market, with northern traders being attacked by irate local youths. In response, the AUFCDN demanded financial compensation from the federal government for its members and when this was not paid, it decided to mount an economic blockade.
Armed AUFCDN members decided to block the Ilorin-Jebba Expressway over the weekend, preventing lorries carrying food items like cattle, tomatoes, onions, pepper, grains and other commodities venturing southwards. However, the action appears to have hurt northern farmers more as their goods were rotting away and they were having to give them out at below-production costs.
Hausa youths stationed on the outskirts of Niger State at Kara-Jebba, near Jebba in Kwara State, began forcing trucks to park along the motorway, creating gridlock, costing the truckers to suffer heavy losses. Yesterday, however, the free movement of goods and vehicles resumed along the Ilorin-Jebba Expressway to the joy of residents and business people in the axis.
Prince Ibrahim Adebara, the son of the traditional ruler of Jebba, said that a troop of military operatives drafted by the federal government effected the free movement. He added that the military personnel stationed along the road to maintain law and order, threatened to treat anyone that blocks the road as a terrorist.
One of the affected traders, Madam Balogun, said she was happy that normalcy had returned but lamented the loss caused by some perishable items that got bad while the situation lasted. Defence headquarters spokesman Brigadier Onyema Ugochukwu, confirmed that soldiers had cleared the Jebba-Kaduna Road of those preventing trucks from going to the south and restore normalcy in the area.
Brigadier Ugochukwu said: “This is also to give a stern warning to any unscrupulous group or persons who are aiming at disrupting legitimate economic and commercial activities by preventing the free flow of traffic and movement of goods in a bid to generate clashes along ethnic divides to desist from such unpatriotic acts or face the wrath of the law. Members of the public are also urged to promptly report anyone found engaged in such atrocious activities to security operatives.”