General manager of Ebonyi Rice World, Hon. Mathew Uguru, has been accused of hijacking the leadership structure of Ebonyi Ricemill, Abakaliki, which has allegedly stirred crisis in the market.
Ebonyi state government, had in June this year dissolved the caretaker committee of Abakaliki Rice Mill Industry, led by Ogodo Samuel over alleged high taxation and extortion.
Secretary to State Government/ Coordinating Commissioner Ugbala Kenneth Igwe, in a release issued in Abakaliki, said Government will in due course set up a new leadership after due consultations with stakeholders of the industry.
But the Millers are accusing Uguru, of purposely delaying their election by insisting on imposing a new executive on them.
One of the Millers, Chief Maduka Anigor, alleged that the Ebonyi Rice World Manager, maintained that there won’t be a peaceful election unless they concede to his demand.
He noted that the problem Abakaliki Rice Mill had was imposition of candidate, insisting that this time around that the Industry’s constitution on electing their representatives must prevail.
He alleged that Hon. Uguru who boosted of his relationship with one of the political chieftains in the state, insisted that Rice Mill owners must allow his choice candidate to rule the Mill or continue to suffer perpetual business bankrupt.
Chief Anigor who explained that he has spent not less than thirty years in the milling industry, lamented that of all the time spent by Hon Samuel Ogodo as their caretaker Chairman, the mill witnessed the highest level of business stagnancy, adding that their customers from rural areas stopped coming to mill their rice due to high taxation and unnecessary extortion by boys allegedly planted by Hon Mathew Uguru.
Another trader who gave his name as Mr Sylvester Ugwumba, said he stopped coming to the mill after about a year ago due to excessive taxation by the immediate dissolved caretaker Chairman.
He stated that the mill suddenly increased prices of empty sacks, toll charges and other unnecessary extortions that were not in the market.
“Abakaliki Rice Mill is our major place of buying rice since I started my business since past twenty years but all of a sudden things started increasing everyday”.
“Empty sack that was sold for N150 for 50kg turned to N300, and 25kg which was N100 turned N250 and so forth with charges for their taxation.
“I got a call some weeks ago that government had intervened and normalcy has been returned, I came and see by myself that the market is now at peace and price returned to a considerable amount as seen in other mills”.
Another stakeholder in the mill, Mr Ignatius Chinedu, revealed that he got information that Hon Uguru has forwarded some names of persons to be imposed on them as the new executive to a top government official in the state.
Contacted on phone, the General Manager Ebonyi Rice World, Hon Uguru, said that he is not a member of rice.
He said: “As a Journalist, do you believe that thing that they told you and besides, I am not a member of Rice Mill”.
Meanwhile, Mr Sylvanus Njoku, appealed for a free, fair and creditable election, adding that the Industry’s image has been badly affected with the last caretaker leadership and that imposing another group of leaders with the aid of a government official as threatened by some stakeholders in the state would do more harm than good.
Mr Njoku called the state Governor, Engr David Umahi, who according to him has listening ears, to intervene by ensuring that the leadership of the mill follows the Constitutional principles of the Industry.