Edo State government has set up a committee to look into the age-long impasse between Okomu Oil Palm and its host Okomu and communities under it.
The setting up of the committee followed a petition written by the host communities to the Presidency wherein they accused the company of marginalisation, land encroachment, etc.
In a meeting summoned by the committee headed by Mr. Luck Wasa, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment to hear the grievances of the people, Coordinator of the communities, Chief Sunday Ajele, said they have lost hope in the state government particularly previous ones hence sending a ‘save our soul’ to the Federal Government.
He said several petitions written to Edo State government in the past where they narrated the agony, pains and suffering Okomu Oil Palm subjected them to did not yield any result, rather the government asked them to go and settle with the company, just as he expressed optimism that the Obaseki-led government will do justice to the matter and compel Okomu oil to do the needful.
Narrating their ordeals in the hands of management Okomu Oil Palm to the committee, Chief Ajele accused the company of forcefully evicting his people from their ancestral land without compensation, rather using the security agencies to threat and terrorise his people.
“It is strange to evict people from their ancestral land and then claim that it is because you have certificate of occupancy. It is strange for a multinational to disallow the people from using the stream for their fishing.
“Between 1990 and year 2000, four communities were evicted, their houses demolished; their property demolished; their farmland demolished without compensation. The company claimed that because they have Certificate of Occupancy they can evict any community of their choice in the area.
“Tell me, how do you evict the people-farmers from their farmland and you said you will not compensate them? Imagine anything cash crop like cooa, no compensation. If you have cassava and others, you are only compensated N12,000 for an acre of land.
“In year 2010, a petition letter titled ‘enough is enough’ was written to Edo State government, and later the government said we should go and settle with the company,” he said.
In his remarks, chairman of the committee and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Mr. Lucky Wasa assured the delegates from the communities justice and a fair playing ground.
He urged the delegates not to lose hope in the committee, stressing that profering a lasting solution made the governor to set up the committee.