Stakeholders in the onion subsector have said they decided to suspend onion supply to some parts of the country because of the series of attacks their members suffered in the past few weeks.
In an exclusive interview with Daily Trust on Sunday in Abuja, the president of the National Onions Producers, Processors and Marketers Association of Nigeria (NOPMAN), Aiyu Isa Maitasamu, said the supply cut would affect all the southern states, as well as some states in the North-Central, including Abuja, the nation’s capital.
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At an emergency meeting in Abuja on Tuesday, attended by all state chapter chairmen, the group referred specifically to an incident on May 30, around Mbaise Local Government Area in Imo State, where two trucks loaded with onions worth N13.5 million were looted by some hoodlums.
He said the incident was coming few months after another loss was recorded during the EndSARS protest in Aba town of Abia State, where three of their members were murdered.
According to him, produce and other valuables that included 30 trucks, nine utility vehicles, 10,000 bags of onions, 50 stores belonging to their members, among other losses, estimated to be N2.1 billion were destroyed.
He said a similar loss was recorded during the Sasha market crisis in Ibadan, Oyo State, where 27 of their members were reportedly killed.
In the Sasha crisis, he said, five trailers, 5,600 bags of onions, 400 shops, 12 utility vehicles, 300 motorcycles, all estimated to be valued at N1.1 billion, were destroyed.
“This has made the entire region, excluding South-South states vulnerable to attacks against our members, and if such is allowed to continue, it may escalate to the North, through retaliation against the people from that area; hence we made the resolution of the supply cut,’’ Maitasamu explained.
Describing South-South states as the most peaceful for their members, the OPMAN president said there was no way the area could be spared out of the action, as one must pass through the South-East before accessing the zone.
He said as a result of the supply cut, other states in the North and Abuja might be affected, as their task force, men would make sure no truck loaded with onions is allowed to cross Zaria in Kaduna State.
He said their members were ready to endure the loss of the perishable items inside their stores within the producing states while the action lasts, adding, however, that they would no longer condone the killing of their members and destroying their property in the South.
Speaking on palliative measures, he explained that some supply would be diverted to neighbouring countries where they are welcome, just as they did during the action taken by the Amalgamation Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protest.
He said the group was still waiting for the fulfilment of the federal government’s promise to compensate them over the losses in Aba and Sasha markets, which he said was part of the condition that led to the suspension of the earlier action by the group as facilitated by the Kogi State governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello.
The NOPMAN president insisted that the present supply cut would only be called off if the Imo State Government compensated the group on the loss in Mbaise, which has been estimated at N13.5 million.