Members of the Lagos State Coconut Sellers and Traders Association of Nigeria, Badagry Branch recently protested against the alleged prejudice, continuous harassment of their members and unlawful seizure of their produce by men of the Nigeria Customs Service.
The Association Members who used the visit of the Chief of Staff to the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Tayo Ayinde as opportunity, came out in mass on Saturday to protest and register their grievances, noting that the act of the NCS is unlawful and inimical to economic growth and development of the community.
The body noted that, men of the Nigeria Customs Service have designated their farm produce, cultivated in Badagry, to be a contraband which has led to the confiscation of truckloads of coconut.
According to a CityMood reporter who was at the scene, the traders presented to the Chief of Staff pictures and documents of various coconut plantations belonging to them thereby ascertaining that the seized coconuts are Nigeria product and not imported from any other country.
In the same vein, the members continued the peaceful protest to the Local Government Secretariat on Monday.
The Coconut Sellers made a call to the government at local and state levels to come to their rescue pointing out that such barbaric act of the NCS can drive people in the business to committing crime if denied of their lawful means of earning a living.
The Chairman of the Association, Mr. Peter Jaiyesimi noted that the income derived from the business is used in training their children to enhance a better society and future growth and development of the community.
In his remarks, the Chairman of Badagry Local Government, Hon. Onilude Segun, expressed his gratitude to the traders for such peaceful protest as amiable law abiding and crisis eschewing citizens of the state.
He stated that, necessary actions will be taken to ensure such act by the men of NCS is curbed to avoid upheaval in the community, highlighting that he will follow it up to ensure the issue is resolved.
In his response, the Chief of Staff, on Saturday, applauded the traders for their peaceful conduct and promised to table their grievances to the Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-olu.
He advised the aggrieved traders to put their complaints in writing and forward to the government for proper action to be taken, stating that no stone will be left unturned to ensure their complaints are addressed.
Reacting to the said claim of Badagry Coconut traders and the protests by the Association, a Badagrian doctoral student from Switzerland, Mr. Seun Williams questioned the negligence and non-challant attitude on the part of the coastline coconut farmers that has driven the region which was known for its prowess in coconut production to be what it is today.
“Beyond the protest, it is high time we become more concerned about revitalising our coastline coconut plantations. We should leave behind this cancer of instant gratification that is eating us up fast.
“For me, one of the worst situations that the Badagrian could find himself is to be on the street, placard-in-hand, protesting the constant seizure of his truck-loads of coconuts imported from Ghana and other West African countries by the Customs officers of his own country.
“Just how can a town known for its extensive coastline of coconut palms now become a trans-loading entrepôt for importers of coconuts? When we go outside Lagos State, and we tell people we are from Badagry, they usually ask us jokingly if we have some fishes or coconuts to spare. It is so unthinkable to come to the realisation that we have now become a coconut-less people” he said.