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Ondo farmers protest against attempt to seize their land

By Friday Omosola

Farmers in Idanre Local Government Area of Ondo have stormed the streets to protest against the plan by the state government to seize their land for private use.

The protesters alleged that the state government had given about 50,000 hectares of their land to private business owners for 99 years. The farmers lamented that over 20,000 of their farmlands had been destroyed.

Also, Hon. Festus Akingbaso, Ondo State House of Assembly representative for Idanre Constituency, kicked against the state government’s plan to sell land owned by his people to private companies. Akungba in a statement revealed that the state government had arrogantly granted private business owners 99 years of access to about 50,000 hectares of land in the Idanre Forest Reserve. The Trumpet Gathered

He said: “There have been rumours and unrest around a supposedly planned action by the Ondo State Government to hand over the land of my people in Idanre to private businesses for a while.

“The fact is that the area known as Idanre Forest Reserve (A05) was submitted to the colonial power under British indirect rule by an agreement dated 22nd day of September, 1918, between Idanre Community and the colonial power represented by the Governor – General.

“The terms of the agreement are explicit. Among which is that the area was constituted as a Forest Reserve for the joint use and benefit of the government and the native communities owning the land. Above term is clear and explicit and to Idanre people it is a running covenant in respect of the area.

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“To the dismay of Idanre people the government of Ondo state without regard or deference to the Owa of Idanre and the people has arrogantly given about 50,000 hectares of land in the area to private business owners for 99 years.

“The following companies are known to be behind the moves to grab Idanre Land. These are Blue Sky Ltd (4000 hectares), Sao Agro services Ltd (10,000 hectares) and Rex (30000 hectares).

“On Sunday, the 17th day of July 2022, SAO Agro services Ltd aided by eight vehicles loaded with personnel of Amotekun Security Corps and officers of the Nigerian Army invaded Ofosu area with a Bulldozer to begin the destruction of farm lands of over 20,000 farmers who are presently farming on the land.

“It is our believe that to alienate about over 50,000 hectares of land to private people to the detriment of over 20,000 citizens is immoral and illegal

Idanre people will not watch while the government is giving away the legacies from our forefathers and what should serve the future generation of Idanre away to few business men.

“The reality on ground is that the government will not be able to manage the economic and social consequences of this move. Government exists to protect the interest of the people, not the few opportunists in our midst.

“I’m appealing to the Governor to stop this move and protect the image of its government as this is nothing but a move against the people. The so-called ceding of the land of our people to private people is against the spirit of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. This is an ill wind.”

Reacting, the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Akeredolu on Agric and AgriBusiness, Pastor Akin Olotu, said the farmers would not be displaced but would rather be incorporated to better yields and improved income.

He said the state government has planned a programme to bring farmers of the same produce together as a cluster as is being practiced in developed countries, adding that the situation at Ofosu would be resolved at a suitable time.

According to him “this will be able to meet the disabilities requirement, to get things done in the proper way and make it easier for the extension officers and other agricultural benefits to get to them through one road.”

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