The Chairman of Abeokuta North Local Government Area of Ogun, Adebayo Ayorinde has denied imposing heavy taxes on the Butchers operating at Lafenwa Abbatoir in Abeokuta.
Ayorinde, who spoke with newsmen on Friday noted that the local government had only requested a fair amount to be paid to the council as revenue by the butchers association.
OgunToday reports that the Butchers, under the aegis of Youth Butchers Assocation of Nigeria, on Thursday, protested alleged imposition of heavy and unrealistic levies on them by the council.
The butchers insisted that the unfair revenue rates on them could degenerate into chaos.
The council chairman, however, explained that after due diligence, it was realised that leaders of the group had been shortchanging the local government for a long time.
He noted that Butchers at the Lafenwa Abbatoir, on the average, slaughtered between 130 to 200 Cows everyday.
He , however, complained that the group does not remit the revenue commensurate with the Cows slaughtered.
Ayorinde called for independent inquiry over the operations of the Assocation at the Abbatoir, insisting that his administration would block all revenue leakages.
The council boss pointed out that the Executives of the Butchers Association were the ones pocketing the money, without proper accountability to their members and the local government.
“At the moment, the Butchers Association are taxing Butchers N1,500 per Cow at the Slaughter Slab. N300 goes to the Local government, while N400 goes back to the Veterinary Doctors. The remaining N800 is unaccounted for.
” The so called leaders of the Youth Butchers Assocation have refused to explain how that N800 is spent.
“We have invited them to a meeting to explain the modalities of their operations to us, but we discovered that they are not ready to be accountable.
“They have proved very difficult. The issue now is, these few bad elements who call themselves leaders of the Assocation are also ripping off their members, not only the local Government.
“The average Butcher at the market does not even know how his taxes are spent. This is totally unfair.
“There are so many lies and inconsistencies in the story of these assocation. They have been collecting this money for over 20 years.
” A section of their Executives are the ones stealing the money, without even bringing any meaningful development to the abbatoir or even Lafenwa community.
“Our administration has been mandated to block all revenue leakages. We would not sit by and watch any group continue to rip the government off and ruin our local economy.
“The revenue rate of N1000 per cow that we are asking them to pay is in line with best practices at other local governments in our state. They know this, but they want to continue to shortchange the local government.
‘They even had the effrontery to offer me a bribe just to continue the status quo, but I told them bluntly that see, this is not about individuals, it is about the collective good of Abeokuta north local government as a whole.
“I can take care of myself, but my administration would not sit down, watch and let our people be cheated by a selfish group. If we are to facilitate meaningful development in line with the ‘Building Our Future Together Agenda’ of this government, then sharp practices like this must be stopped.
“To prove that a small clique from these Butchers Assocation are taking what belongs to the government, I challenge them to let us set up an independent committee, comprising of two LG and state government officials each, two members of their own Executive and two representatives of concerned security agencies. At the end of the day, we should be able to unravel the truth behind this matter,” he said.
Ayorinde while reiterating his administration’s commitment to peace and security of lives and property in the council, explained that he never intimidated the butchers with soldiers and police officers.
He said the security operatives only provided security for members of the legislative assembly of the Council who went to the Abbatoir on an oversight function.
He asked those who had proof of any physical intimidation at the Abbatoir to come forward and present same.
The council chairman expressed concern that some frustrated politicians opposed to the success of the administration of Prince Dapo Abiodun, might be sponsoring the Butchers Assocation.
He assured that government remained committed to public accountability and integrity, adding that the governor would not compromise those qualities, which was evident in the many laudable projects of his government.