Traders in Yobe State are creating artificial scarcity of foods and commodity to make huge profits, the government has said.
Abdullahi Bego, the spokesperson to Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, said in a statement on Saturday that traders were in the habit of blockading incoming trucks loaded with goods, mostly food and consumables, which could beat down prices of those in the market.
The statement said the traders, through their union, only permit a certain number of trucks with specific nature of goods to enter the state, especial Damaturu the state capital.
“Some of these activities include trying to stop anyone outside Damaturu or outside the state from bringing in wares to sell in the State capital, forcing traders to wait in regulated queues before they could offload and sell their wares in order to jerk up prices unreasonably and suffocating the market by forcing traders to not sell certain products at certain times,” the statement said.
“One example of how pernicious this has become, according to reports reaching the government, was when a certain trader from Taraba State with a lorry-load of yam tubas on his way to Maiduguri had a flat tyre in Damaturu and therefore decided to start selling him yams there before he could fix his lorry. He was reportedly forced to stop selling the yams by those elements in the traders’ association who threatened him on the illegal excuse that there are already yams in the market and so he would not be allowed to ‘interfere’ with the regimes of availability and pricing that they had set up.
“The net effects of these practices are that small and medium businesses in the state capital are stopped from growing and free competition is sacrificed at the altar of interests that are demonstrably selfish and against the law.
“Consequently, the Yobe State Government will work with law enforcement to ensure that any trader found engaged in these practices is arrested and prosecuted,” the statement said.
The Yobe government said it will also work with the State House of Assembly to outlaw such practices.
The state’s traders’ union could not be immediately reached for comments.