Ekiti govt urges peace over acquisition of 55,000 hectares of land
Ekiti State Government has appealed to communities protesting against alleged shoddy acquisition of 55,000 hectares of land designated as agricultural processing zone to eschew violence, saying the initiative was intended to enhance food security and create jobs in the state.
The government made the appeal, yesterday, while interfacing with angry land owners from Iyemero, Esun, Odo-Oro, Itapaji, Ipao, Oke-Ayedun and Oke-Ako Ekiti, who are owners of the sprawling parcel of land acquired by government for the agricultural scheme.
The meeting with the aggrieved communities followed a letter from the Ekiti State Ministry of Agriculture over agitation expressed by the land owners in the donor communities.
The communities were led into the meeting by monarchs, including the Olu of Itapaji, Oba AbduKareem Adebanjo, Alaaye of Oke Ayedun, Oba Olufemi Aribisala, Onise of Odo- Oro, Oba Babatunde Jemilehin, and Elesun of Esun, Oba Babatunde Ogunsakin.
Others were the regent of Oke Ako Ekiti, Her Royal Highness Tinuade Adebayo, and the Chairman of Ajoni Local Council Development Area, Mr. Michael Ogungbemi.
The Deputy Governor, Monisade Afuye, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in her office, Abayomi Opeyemi, said the host communities in Ekiti North Senatorial District would enjoy speedy economic development if they allow the policy to thrive.
Afuye said the Ekiti State Technical Committee on Land Matters would visit the expansive land for boundary tracing, so that each of the six towns would know their boundaries.
She said; “When this programme fully begins, it is the host communities that will benefit most in terms of employment and business development. This will also help in curtailing the incidences of kidnappings that were rampant in that axis.
“Let us allow peace to reign by allowing the boundary commission to do the demarcation so that there will be peace. What we are trying to do is to increase food production and create wealth and jobs for our people through commercial farming.
“I want to assure you that this government will not illegally deprive any community the rights to ownership of their lands. When government acquired lands, it is for public interest.
“I appeal to you, let us be patient with government. With this engagement, we have known that a lot of issues needed to be handled properly and we are going to do before the full commencement of the programme.”
In their responses, the monarchs appealed to government to adhere strictly to processes guiding acquisition of lands and as well stop indiscriminate land clearing in the area before embarking on demarcation of boundaries among towns.
They lamented that the engagement done for the acquisition of over 5,000 hectares of land by government for Agbeyewa Agribusiness Farm from the area under contention were shoddily done and that such should be corrected to foster peace.
“We are not against government acquiring lands for farming. We know the importance and benefit to local economy, but it has to be properly done. Community engagement, issuance of notice to farmers and payment of compensations to those whose crops will be destroyed are very important in this issue.
“Government should also look at the famine such action could cause and the environmental and atmospheric implications it will have on these towns because of aggressive tree felling that will be carried out by investors that will move into our lands.”