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Edo communities protest against illegal land acquisition

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Some communities in Uhunmwode, in Owan West and Ovia North East Local Councils of Edo State, at the weekend protested against the acquisition of their land by Okomu Oil Palm Company.

The protests held in Orhua and Umokpe in Uhunmwode and Ozalla clan of Owan West, were led by the communities’ traditional heads and elders-in-council.

The Odionwere of Orhua, Aiwekhoe Ozigbo and Mr. Influence Osaghaede, who spoke on their behalf, said the land had been their heritage for centuries.

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They appealed to Governor Godwin Obaseki and the Oba of Benin, Ewuare II, to stop the company from taking further action on the land.

They alleged that the state government forcibly acquired their land without following the due process or paying them any compensation.

The elders said the warning became necessary to stop the firm from further destruction of their farmlands and wildlife species.

The elders alsoalleged that Okomu oil acquired the land from a company, A & Hatman Ltd, which claimed to have purchased it from Iyayi Group of Companies.

They appealed to those interested in land acquisition to fulfill the mandatory Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study .

But, the Public Affairs Manager of Okomu Oil, Fidelis Oliseh, denied the allegation.

He explained that the state government issued a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) to Okomu Oil, which had not been revoked.

Oliseh added that the project’s commissioning was to be performed in the twilight of Adams Oshiomhole’s administration, stressing that plans were underway for Obaseki to perform the ceremony.

Meanwhile, Obaseki yesterday promised to resolve the salary arrears’ challenge in the local councils.

He disclosed this when he received members of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE) who visited him.   He also promised to address the issue of staffing and liabilities in the management of council funds.


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