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Okomu Oil Company Host Communities Protest Over Maltreatment, Harassment

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Accuse Company Of Blocking Their Road

Our Fishing Traps Seized By Okomu Oil – Communities

Host communities of Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc in Ovia South West Local Government Area of Edo State, yesterday, held a peace protest against what they tagged marginalisation and ill-treatment by the oil palm company.

The protesters drawn from the host communities of Gbelebu, Safargbo, Okomu, Oweike, Maikolo, etc, carried placards bearing inscriptions such as: ‘Govt tell Okomu Oil Company to open our road’; ‘Okomu Oil Company give us our fishing traps that are with you’; ‘stop polluting our stream with your agro chemical, it is our only source of drinking water’; ‘we are not terrorists, stop harassing us with military, Okomu Oil’, accused the company of blocking and positioning fiece looking military men on the only road that links them to Udo.

The protesters also acussed Edo State government of selling the whole land wherein they farm to the company thereby enslaving them, just as they lamented that they have no where to farm anymore in their land.

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Speaking to the press shortly after the protest, the Fiyewei (spokesperson) of Okomu clan, Chief Sunday Ajele, said it quite unfortunate that government of Edo State has joined in the enslavement of the people with continuous sales of the land wherein the natives farm to a foreign company.

L-R: Chief Gbadiagha Obeke, the Tunwei of Safaragbo; High Chief Enoch Sulubor, the Amananaowei of Gbelebu; Chief Sunday Ajele, the Fiyewei (spokesperson) of Okomu and Chief Wuluku Wilson of Okomu, addressing the press shortly after the protest.

“The state government sells the land to multinational where this forest people farm and even trade. If you sell the land to multinational, where do you want these people to survive? Ordinarily, we expected the state government to come to the aide of these host communities and question this multinational why the ill-treatment but unfortunately, the state government has joined them in the enslavement.

“A country that has constitution, it is unfortunate that the constitution is not working. A country with laws yet the law is not working. The law protects only the rich while the poor who are the forest people that feed the nation are suffering. Everything we buy in the market comes from the forest,” he said.

On her part, Mrs. Biobokogha Pena-ere from Okomu said the company has put the communities into bondage through their maltreatment and harrasement, lamenting that they can no longer fish nor farm.

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The protesters at Gbelebu comminity on Friday

READ ALSO: Edo Govt Sets Up Committee To Look Into Okomu Oil Palm, Host Communities Impasse

“Okumu Oil Palm is oppressing us, intimidating us, we don’t have good road, we don’t have good water. We cannot kill the fish we used to kill before because they have used their chemical to spoil our river, so no fish. The petty business we do to survive, they have blocked the road to access urban cities, so we can no longer do our businesses,” Pena-ere lamented.

Also speaking, Chief French Yabike decried the activities of Okomu Oil Palm Company, alleging that the company has been busy evacuating their villages, just he further lamented that yet “in terms of employment nothing; talking about scholarship, nothing, everything they promised, nothing was done.”

He said Okomu land is divided into two area: BC 9 and BC10, and that they the native are in BC 10, alleging that Okomu Oil Palm Company has crossed to BC 10 part of the land and intimidating them with military.

“We are tired of the activities of Okomu Oil Palm Company. The company has been evacuating our communities. Some times ago, they came with soilders to evacuate Lemon camp. After that they proceeded to Agbede comminity and evacuated them, and later extended to Oweike, they evacuated it too,” he said.

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Also speaking, a chief from Gbelebu comminity, Ejueyi Segun, said the only road linking the community and others has been blocked by the company, saying the company does not owe the road as claimed.

READ ALSO: Okomu Oil Boss Destroying Our Land, Maltreating Our People’, Ukomu Natives Cry For Help

He said, “The company has blocked the existing road before the company was founded. Since 2019, the road has been under lock and today it’s been locked completely. They used COVID-19 as an excuse to finally lock up the road with lockdown excuse. The alternative road is bad.

“The road the company is claiming is not its road, that road was constructed by British West Africa Timber Contractors of those days before Okomu Oil Palm was set up there.”

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Engineer Lawani Dumofaye, from Agbede community said “Just of last week, our local farmers mills were being burnt down by Okomu Oil Palm Company. We have been suffering. Our streams are being polutted with their Agro chemicals. We are suffering. We are calling on the international comminity and the government to come to our aides. We have a lot of graduates in our communities but none is being employed.”

Calls and WhatsApp messages sent to the Public Relations Officer the company, Fidelis Olise were not replied even after reading them.

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Community reports

Tipper Drivers Association Gives Edo Priest 7 Days Ultimatum To Return Landed Properties

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Tipper Drivers Association in Edo state has given the Chief Priest of Okhuoromi community in Oredo Local Government Area of the the state, Ovbokhan Igbinovia, seven days ultimatum to return landed properties bought by its members and individuals.

While briefing newsmen at the association head office on Monday in Benin City, the state capital, chairman of the association, Comrade Austin Uhunmwangho said if the state government, Oba of Benin and concern authorities fail to prevail on the Chief Priest to return landed properties the association will be left with no choice than to withdraw it’s services across the state.

He said, “The Chief Priest collected my land including that of my members, he destroyed our buildings. Buildings that was up to roofing level, all went down the drain, just like that”.

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READ ALSO: Church, Community At Loggerhead Over Land Ownership In Edo

“We are not the only victim of this whole evil act, you can see some other persons here. We have taken it upon ourselves to liberate others even while we fight for our rights.

“What we want is our land, we don’t want any other thing. Our members land and all the victims of circumstances, their properties must be returned back to them.” (sic)

“We have gotten over fifty petitions with evidences of houses that have been demolished. The state government and the Benin palace should intervene. We are giving the Chief Priest seven days ultimatum or declare total shot down of services across the entire state.”

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READ ALSO: Idahosa’s Claim Of Land Repossession False, His Land Intact – Evbuovbioba Comminity

Comrade Uhunmwangho noted that action of the community chief priest is worst than that of the disbanded Community Development Association, CDA whose activities were retrogressing development in the kingdom.

“It will be better we reverse to the days/era of CDA though it has been outlawed by the state government and by the Benin Monarch.”

Also speaking, Mrs Amete Joy, one of the victims whose property was collected, said all efforts to recover her land was unsuccessful even when she stayed at the Chief Priest house gate for days.

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“He destroy my building with three self contains, the remaining building materials available were seized. When I bought that land we starved for days just to pay for the land” she said.

READ ALSO: Land Grapping: Community Wants Edo Govt Intervention

The Ohen, Chief Priest, Ovbokhan Igbinovia had accused the association chairman of pucknosing into an affair that he was never invited with the motive of satisfying his sidechic.

He said Comrade Uhunmwangho and his members did not buy any landed property from authorities of the community.

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Oko-Oroma, Amagba Boundary Dispute: Obey Oba Of Benin’s Order, Youth Leader Tells ‘Invaders’

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Elders of Oko-oroma community in Ikpoba- Okha Local Government Area of Edo State, Friday, called on the people of Amagba community in Oredo local of the state to obey the decision of the Oba of Benin, Ewuare II .

Speaking on behalf Oko-Okoma , the youth leader of the community, Prince Osaretin Emokpae, told journalists in Benin that the Oba has declared that Oko-Oroma or Agor Emokpae is not under Obagie-Nevbosa neither is it under Amagba.

Emokpae said the verdict of the Benin monarch is sacrosanct and should be final as it relates to issues bothering on boundary dispute in the kingdom.

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He said the statement of the Oba stemmed from the prolonged boundary dispute between the people of Oko-Oroma and Amagba who have bent on laying claim on their land but the monarch in his wisdom said Okoroma or Agor Emokpae is not under Obagie-Nevbosa neither is it under Amagba but that everybody should go and maintain peace and order.

READ ALSO: Oke- Oroma, Amagba Impasse: AIG Sues For Peace, Sets To Investigate Alleged Murder, Incessant Invasion

According to him, “After the fight and the killings between Oko-Okoma and Amagba, we went to the palace, Oba Ewuare II, gave a verdict and said that Oko-Oroma is a large community.

“Amagba people used to call us Agor Emokpae, and all villages started from Agor.

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“So, Oko-Oroma is a large community. It took its name from Oroma village, Oke-Oroma.

“So, after that fight in February 2020, the Oba Ewuare II said Oko-Oroma or Agor Emokpae is not under Obagie-Nevbosa neither is it under Amagba but that everybody should go and maintain peace and order. 

“So, we all went home, to maintain peace but the people of Amagba did not allow us to have rest”, Emokpae he added.

READ ALSO: Community Seeks Police Intervention Over Alleged Plans by Neighbouring Communities To Cause Communal Crisis

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Prince Emokpae said that in order to mislead the public, the people of Amagba have gone about displaying document claiming that the monarch has ruled in their favour and that the disputed land belongs to them, saying it is not true.

“They came about some days back with a fake paper, that Oba has given them a fresh verdict that they are now the custodian of Oroma village.

“So, they came and started fighting us, flying paper around that the Oba has given them fresh verdict.

“We have gone to the palace to check, nothing like that, Oba has not said anything like that.

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“There is no fresh judgement yet, Oba said everybody should maintain status quo,” he said.

He explained that, “Oroma river is the natural boundary and that everybody should maintain status quo and Amagba people refused to maintain the natural boundary.

“They crossed their Oredo local government area to Ikpoba-Okha local government area.

“So, we want the general public to know that the papers they are flying saying that the Oba has given them verdict, that it is a lie”, he said.

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READ ALSO: Rescue Us From Incessant Attack, Land Encroachment, Oke-Oroma Community Begs Edo Govt, Others

In reaction, the acting Chief Press Secretary to Oba Ewuare said the Oba Ewuare has not given fresh verdict.

The two communities are in different local government Area which are Oredo and Ikpoba-Okha of the state.

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Why Obaseki Dissolves Uzanu Clan, Threatens To Arrest Buhari’s Minister, Agba

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The Governor Godwin Obaseki-led adminstration in Edo State on Saturday said it has approved the revocation of South Uneme in Etsako East Local Government Area of the state owing to the ‘persistent violent communal clashes which have claimed several lives in the community.”

Government special announcement signed by the Secretary to the State Government Barr. Osarodion Ogie said, “the State Government has also withrawn the appointment of HRH Benjamin Ikani as the Oliola of Uzanu clan of South East Uneme with immediate effect.

According to the statement issued, the government’s action is “predicated on the incessant and flagrant disregard to peace agreement and government’s directive to maintain peace in Uzanu community and it’s environs by the Oliola.

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Earlier, the Deputy Governor of the state, Comrade Philip Shaibu had threatened that the Edo State Government would be forced to issue arrest warrant on Prince Clem Agba, Minister of State for Budget Planning over his role in fanning the ember of war within communities in the state.

Comrade Shaibu stated this in an earlier enlarged meeting between waring communities where the Uzanu leadership reportedly displayed outright disdained to abide by government’s position on the communal dispute as they reportedly threatened to cause unrest in the state. This forced government to come out with a lasting solution on the issue.

Trouble started early in the year when Igiode community accused the Minister of State for Budget, Prince Clem Agba who is from Uzanu clan of removing government beacon demarcation and trespassed deep into Igiode land.

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READ ALSO: Man Arraigned For Allegedly Assaulting Female Neighbour

The action of Clem Agba was predicated to undermine government earlier white paper issued two years ago on the adjustment and demarcation of the boundaries which once restored peace and normalcy.

With the dissolution of Uzanu clan, the Uzanu village has been returned under the leadership of HRH George Egabor the Okumagbe of Uwanno kingdom as the office of Oliola no longer exists .

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