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Firm, state government differ on safety of Edo for investments

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Okomu Oil Palm Company yesterday alleged that the “illegal acts by some local communities” which ‘prevented’ its workers from undertaking the planned clearing of the company’s Extension 1 boundaries in anticipation of the arrival of Edo State Geographic Information Service (EDOGIS) officials were constituting a taint to Governor Godwin Obaseki’s quest for businesses to thrive particularly in the agricultural sector.

In a statement in Benin City, the firm’s Communications Officer, Mr. Fidelis Olise, said the exercise was part of the company’s re-certification process in deference to the state’s law.

He said: “Okomu workers, who were about to commence work, were allegedly attacked by a large group of people who had apparently assembled from different neighbouring communities, which included, but was not seemingly limited to Inikorogha, Asamara, Udo and Hassan camps.

“Not only were workers assaulted on Okomu’s property, but members of these communities also damaged vehicles belonging to the company.”

He stated that the action was antithetical to the vision and goals of the governor “who has labouured tirelessly to give credibility and stability to Edo State.”

Olise added: “This action needs to be condemned by government in the strongest terms and police action taken against those responsible, especially on government officials who apparently paraded themselves as supporters of the governor’s investment initiatives, yet seemingly took matters into their own hands for personal gains behind the scene.”

He further claimed that “Odiguetue community recently mounted illegal tolls on the road to Akure in Ovia North West Local government Area in spite of government’s warning to the contrary.”

“These actions of the various communities are totally inimical to investment in Edo State if they go unchecked and should be vigorously condemned by government in order to assure investors that government will not tolerate these forms of illegality,” the spokesman stated.

Commending the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Mr. Monday Osaigbovo for “taking up these issues in the hope of resolving them speedily so as to assure investors that their investments were safe from illegal activities”, Olise added: “Even the most vocal critics of the Obaseki administration would acknowledge that his administration has strived to create an environment for businesses to thrive, especially in the agricultural sector, where the government hopes to create the bulk of the 200,000 jobs it promised the people of Edo State.”

Reacting, Commissioner Osaigbovo dismissed the allegations, stating: “Okomu Oil Palm is being economical with the truth. Odiguetue community has complained severally that its people were being kidnapped by herdsmen who hide at camps situated in the oil palm plantation. The camps should be investigated and destroyed if such exist.

“That is what the people in the community are asking Okomu to assist them with by curbing incidents of killings and kidnappings in the community. Nobody blocked the highway to demand for toll.”


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