BusinessDay

Cocoa farmers protest over Ondo govt’s move to sell farmland to Chinese

Hundreds of Cocoa farmers in Ofosu, Idanre Local Government of Ondo State on Monday protested over alleged sales of their farmland to Chinese Company by the State Government.

The protesters, who blocked the popular Lagos/Benin Expressway, carried placards with different inscriptions such as: “Respect Our Rights to Livelihood”, Don’t Give Our Land to Mindless Capitalists, “We Want to Remain Farmers and not Armed Robbers”, among others.

Kazeem Akinrimisi, the Sasare of Ofosu, who spoke to journalists during the protest, noted that he had been farming on the land for over 20 years.

Akinrimisi explained that the farmers had been paying their dues to the State Government Agencies for farming on the Government Reserves for years.

While questioning the move by the State Government to sell their farmland without notice, Akinrimisi explained that about 25,000 were captured in data registration of farmers by the State Government recently to show that all farming activities being carried out in the Reserves were approved by the State Government.

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Akirimisi, who said that he paid N6 million as his dues for farming on the land to the state internally generated revenue agency in 2021, pleaded that State Government should allow the farmers to acquire the land instead of being under foreigners as such an action would result to capital flight.

According to him, the farmers occupy 74 camps of the community on 20,000 Acres of Land.

Another protester, Ezekiel Otatunji, an octogenarian, however, asked the Government to consider means of livelihood of the farmers, saying he had been farming on the land for over 20 years and he paid N1.2 million as his due to Government last year.

He stated that he was surprised for the government’s readiness to sell the land to foreigners, saying that cocoa is a major foreign exchange to Nigeria.

The octogenarian asked the state governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, to allow the farmers to be paying their dues as before.

The Olu of Ofosu, Henry Olumakaye, who later appealed to the farmers to be calm, however, promised that the palace was planning to hold a meeting with the state government on Tuesday.

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