Cattle, foodstuff traders end blockade, visit Presidency over demands

Olalekan Adetayo and Adelani Adepegba

The Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers in Nigeria has called off its nationwide strike after an engagement with the Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello. The AUFCDN President, Muhammad Tahir, said the strike was called off following the Federal Government’s promise to pay N4.75bn compensation, ensure protection of its members and stop all forms of multiple taxation and intimidation from security officials on the highways.

The group had demanded N4.75b, compensation for the alleged killing of its members and properties lost during the #EndSARS protests and the Sasha market crisis. But briefing journalists after the parley in Abuja on Wednesday, Tahir stated that Bello begged the cattle dealers on behalf of the Federal Government to suspend the food blockade which kicked off five days ago.

He stated, “All the stakeholders and members of AUFCDN involved in our nationwide strike are glad; we achieved what we wanted to achieve.“They agreed to pay the compensation and stop multiple taxation on federal highways and allow us to engage in our business activities peacefully nationwide.” Addressing the union members during the reconciliatory meeting, Bello said the strike had increased the hardship majority of Nigerians were already going through, including members of the aggrieved cattle and foodstuff dealers.

The governor said, “We must make life easy for ourselves; since you embarked on this action, there has been a lot of hardship on Nigerians across board; not only in the South or West”. A former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, who spoke on behalf of the West and Southern geo-political regions, said the impact of the strike was too heavy to ignore, adding that the killing of any Hausa-Fulani or traders engaged in legal business activities would no longer be tolerated or accepted.

“On behalf of the so many people in the South-West, especially Sunday Igboho (Yoruba activist), our commitment to you today is that people of the Hausa- Fulani extraction cannot and will not be attacked in the south”. Fani-Kayode, however, appealed to the FG to address the menace of armed Fulani herdsmen in the forests, whom he said were known to perpetrate all forms of evil, including killing, raping and maiming of Nigerians. Bello, Fani-Kayode present AFUCDN’s demands to Presidency: Meanwhile, Bello and Fani-Kayode on Wednesday evening led the leaders of the cattle dealers to a meeting with the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari. Gambari told State House correspondemts at the end of the meeting that that their demands will be presented to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.). Bello also told reporters that union members had made some demands that must be met by government to forestall a recurrence. He said, “I have the commitment of the union, in order for us not to continue to have this hardship across the country, to lift the ban on food and livestock transportation to the South.

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“I have also received major commitment from people from the South not to attack people of Hausa/Fulani and the traders in the South and that the criminals among them, irrespective of tribe and religion, should be handed over to law enforcement agents.

“I have also received the commitment that their lives and property will be protected also.

“So, these are the messages we brought to the the chief of staff to convey to the president”.

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