10,000 farmers face eviction over sale of 2,000 hectares of Ondo forest reserve

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Over 10,000 farmers cultivating farmlands in the Oluwa forest reserve in Odigbo Local Council Area of Ondo State have been thrown into confusion following the alleged sale of over 2,000 hectares of the reserve to a private company by the state government. READ ALSO:Hisbah to probe staff for ‘promoting’ LGBTQ rights in Kano The farmers lamented that the expanse of farmland was rented to them by the government over 25 years ago, and they have been paying the required fees for the occupation of the reserve. According to the farmers who spoke through Abayomi Isinleye, the Chairman of the Oluwa Forest Reserve Farmers, they alleged that a Certificate of Occupancy (CofO) had been issued to the private company that bought parts of the forest reserve, which they argued negated the procedure of acquiring a government-owned forest reserve. The affected farmers maintained that nine farm camps would be affected by the forceful eviction, with the company already bulldozing the farmlands, which had already been cultivated with yams, cassava, maize, cocoa, and kola nut, among others. READ ALSO:Utomi knocks FG over ‘panic’ measures to cut food prices They maintained that if not reversed, the state will be impacted by food insecurity as the company tends to plant oil palm trees, which will be solely for export. The farmers said: “While we know that the government can grant permission or license to people to log or farm in the forest reserve, we did not know and believe government forest reserve land could be sold outright to private investors. “Our findings have unearthed shady deals, potential conflicts of interest, and compromises of public interest, the interests of the people of Ondo State, and the integrity of the entire process of this sale of government forest land to these private investors. “This private company, Acme Palms Limited, incorporated in July 2020 in Nigeria with RC No. 1698827, armed with a Certificate of Occupancy issued by the Ondo State government, dated July 23, 2021, and registered as No.59 at page 59 in Volume 767 of the Lands Registry of Ondo State, over about 2000.482 hectares of the Ondo State Government forest reserve land the company purportedly bought from the Ondo State government has entered into the forest reserve to commence the process of grading and forceful taking over of the forest reserve where about ten thousand farmers, who are Ondo State government tenants, have cultivated over two million cocoa trees prior to this alleged sale. READ ALSO:Jattu market: Edo Govt. consoles families of victims “The revealed implication of the above discovery is that these public office holders veiled under registered companies are the ones forming business alliances and buying up government forest reserve land under their control for their private businesses while using the instrumentality of their various public offices to perfect this private interest arrangement and also relying on the offices held to get financial resources to pursue their private business interests. “These discoveries do not only undermine the integrity of the purported sale of government property and use the influence of public office to perfect documentation of such a sale but also disclose an apparent conflict of interest that raises serious legal and ethical concerns, thereby eroding public trust in government processes and decisions.” READ ALSO:Military, NDLEA seize 2.5 tonnes of drugs meant for terrorists in Borno Following the development, the farmers, through their solicitor, Tope Temokun, petitioned Governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa to investigate how the forest reserve was sold to the private company, but disclosed that the governor failed to respond to the series of letters addressed to him. “When we faced further threats from this company, we decided to approach the court, and through the writ dated July 8, 2024, filed our counsel, Tope Temokun, we asked the court for a consequential order setting aside and nullifying the Certificate of Occupancy purportedly issued to the 6th defendant by the 1st defendant, dated July 23, 2021, and registered as No.59 at page 59 in Volume 767 of the Lands Registry of Ondo State.” The post 10,000 farmers face eviction over sale of 2,000 hectares of Ondo forest reserve appeared first on Guardian Nigeria News.

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