Cocoa farmers protest alleged sale of farmland to a Chinese company in Ondo

Friday Omosola, Akure

Cocoa farmers in Ofosu in Idanre Local Government Area of Ondo State have protested over an alleged sale of their farmland to a Chinese company by the state government.

The protesters who barricaded the Lagos/Benin Expressway were seen carrying placards with different inscriptions to demand justice.

Some of the placards read “Please, Don’t Take our Farms” and “Have Mercy on Us. Don’t Take our Farms, Respect Our Right to Livelihood”, “Don’t Give Our Land to Mindless Capitalists” and “We Want to Remain Farmers and not Armed Robbers”.

A community leader, Kazeem Akinrimisi, the Sasere of Ofosu who spoke with newsmen noted that he had been farming on the land which the government is planning to sell for over 20 years.

He revealed that more than 25,000 farmers who registered with the state government had been paying their dues appropriately.

Mr Akinrimisi who affirmed that he paid N6 million as dues for farming on the land to the state government in 2021, pleaded with the government to allow the farmers to acquire the land instead of imposing foreigners on them.

According to him, the farmers occupy 74 camps in the community spread over 20,000 acres of laR

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Another protester, Ezekiel Olatunji, urged the government to consider the lands as the farmers’ means of livelihood.

Mr Olatunji said in 2021, he paid N1.2 million as his due to the state government, saying he had been farming on the land for over 20 years.

The octogenarian who said he was astonished by the government’s decision to sell the land to foreigners, noted that cocoa is a major foreign exchange earner for Nigeria.

He asked Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu to allow the farmers to be paying their dues, even at the expense of paying more if desired by the government.

In a similar vein, Samuel Awolola, said Obada Camp in the community where he belonged paid N9 million out of N10 million as farming dues to the government in 2021.

Georginah Ose, another protester, said that taking the land away from the farmers could increase the crime rate in the society, saying that more than 25,000 farmers would be rendered jobless.

The Olu of Ofosu, Henry Olumakaye appealed for calm and avoided violence and promised that the palace would hold a meeting with the state government.

All efforts to get the reaction of the Special Adviser to the governor on Agriculture and Agribusiness, Akin Olotu proved abortive.

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