Home Crime Mass protest in Ondo over alleged plan by Akeredolu to wipe out 19 villages for private firm

Mass protest in Ondo over alleged plan by Akeredolu to wipe out 19 villages for private firm

by Roving

••• set to displace over 50,000 Farmers

It was a tense situation as farmers from over 19 villages in Ondo west local government area of Ondo state trooped out in multitudes at Ilua community to stage a peaceful protest against what they described as plan by governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu to wipe out the villages and displace over 50,000 farmers for the benefit of private firm owned by some Indians and Chinese.

The protesters who were overwhelmed with agony and grief alleged the development had led to the deaths of some farmers whose farmlands had been allegedly destroyed by Indians.

The grieving protesters which included pupils of some primary schools located in the villages as well as aged people appealed to president Bola Tinubu to wade in and prevail on governor Akeredolu to rescind his decision of eliminating the villages in the local government.

The irate protesters converged on Laoso village where they showed their grivenaces on government policy of selling their farm lands to Chinese and Indian companies.

The community leaders who said they have been in the farms since 100 years ago, after their forefathers, lamented that government has issued them notice of evacuation, telling them that their lands has been sold.

The protesters were seen in mass with various placards with inscriptions such as ‘This is enslaved’ ‘we say no to the destruction of our cocoa farm’ ‘No Farmer no nation’, poverty is not good, ‘we don’t want to steal, farming is our job’, ‘Aketi should not sell our lands to China’, ‘they should leave us here to farm, we have no where to go’, Cocoa farm is our livelyhood, don’t chase us out’, Cocoa farm is what we live on, don’t sell the lands to china.

Speaking with newsmen, one of the community leaders, Royal Highness Olalani Ibidapo of ilua said,“We are here today because government had sold our lands to China. If I am not mistaken, I am the 6th generation here, we have been here over 100 years ago, we are here farming no other things.

“ I have more than 19 villages under me here, Ilua, Laoso, Adejori, logunofe, Keseomi, obadore, Obakele, Ilua 2, Kangidi, Oloruntedo, Abayemisi and Magbaralewon, these and more villages under me.

“We heard sundenly that we should move out unexpectedly, where are we going to go, look at our people no work, we have graduates here but no Job, then they ventured into farming, we are protesting against this policy, we also appeal that they should look into the situation, we are already a community, we have local government, we have health center, we have youths.

“We do pay our dues, we have been paying since 2018. We always collect receipt and the last time they asked us to pay the dues was in 2021. They later stopped coming, then next thing we heard from them is that we should move out, without any offence, they told us this place has been sold to China, imagine, we are over 50, 000 in number. we have polling units. We voted for them, see what they are doing to us.

If the government insists that they want us to leave, there would be problem, war, there would be criminals. Look at our youths working in the farm, government should be happy about it, look at the crowd.”

Also speaking, Akinbami Phlips, the Youth general chairman of Laje community, Laoso District, Ondo west, said, “We are begging the government, we have graduates who have farms here, we want the government to leave us so that we would continue out farms, this is where we feed our family.

“They asked us to be pay money and we are faithful to it, we can continue paying, what we want want is they should give back our lands.

“Every year the government do give us payment advice, sometimes three million would be paid and we do pay, but now, they don’t give us the money to pay again, the last time we paid to the government pox was 2021 Because they don’t give us payment advice again.

“What we feel that the government want to do is like to they want to sell this lands totally, this would make us suffer, We have started seeing white men coming to the land, we are against this policy.

On his part, Akinserinwa Isaac, a youth in the community said, ”I appeal to the state government to please temper their actions with Mercy, look at our children, we have a secondary school here at Laje, our children do treck, we have over 500 Students, we have lots of graduates that are farming here, there is no employment in the state for the past 14 years, most of our graduates are working in the farm.

“Last year, this community was given 3 polling unit, one at Keseomi, Laoso and the other one is here at Laje which is the Headquarter, we have about 50,000 people that are farming here, where are they going to?, If the government comes to destroy our farms, these people would turn to bandits, they would venture into Arms robbery, they would be involved in criminal activities, we appeal to the government, we don’t have any other way to go, our forefathers have been working here above 100 years ago, we children inherited this farm, we are indegine of Ondo State, let Akeredolu look in to this.”

A pupil, Antony Confidence who is a primary five Student of the community, Iruwa Ondo said, “We beg the Authority to leave our parents to stay in their working place, we appeal to them to allow us, so that our Studies would also continue, so that we can be leaders of tomorrow.”

Another community leader, Prince Francis Adewole, said, “We are begging the state government to give us chance to enjoy our labour, we are begging President Tinubu also to appeal to Governor Akeredolu to give us chance to enjoy what we have laboured for, we have been here for over 100 years, we have lots of population here, where do we go.”

Reacting, the Senior Special Assistant (Agric & Agribusiness) to governor Akeredolu, Pastor Akin Olotu described the claims by the villagers as untrue.

He distanced the state government from such quit notice and sale of the people’s farms to anyone or firm, adding that Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu is not out to punish anyone but to make things better for the people of the state.

According to Olotu, “No government will displace anybody in any free area. We will look at the area. I will invite their representatives and we will sit down together and look at a win-win situation. How we can accommodate their interest in what we are doing.

“Governace is about the people. When we see what’s on ground, we will know what to do. My little investigation shows that where they are is out of the place those people(companies) are coming to work. Maybe it’s anticipatory action.

“So, we will send government’s surveyors there to confirm the precise location. If anybody is affected. Nobody came to us in the office, I think that should be the first thing to do.

“We will find out and see what’s going on there. We will see how we can resolve everything amicably. We will find out if it’s government reserved area or free area and we will know what to do. But I want to assure them that nobody’s interest will be jeopardized. The Governor is not out to punish anybody but to make things better,” Olotu said.

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