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Edo farmers protest ceding land to oil palm investor

Hundreds of farmers at Urhonigbe forest reserve in Orhionmwon local government area of Edo State on Monday protested against the alleged leasing of the forest reserve to Saro company for the cultivation of palm oil plantation.

The farmers and the indigenes of the community, mostly old men, women and youths, protested to the Edo State Government House, Benin City and the Secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Edo state council.

Famous Egharevba, the spokesperson of the community, noted that the local government, which is the highest producer of oil and gas in the state, is devoid of government presence.

Egharevba said the community voted for the governor for his first tenure and the reelection for the second term against their son, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, who was his main rival in the elections.

According to him, the land where the Urhonigbe forest reserve is located was donated by our forefathers while other communities refused to donate any land for any forest reserve.

“Urhonigbe forest reserve is our only means of livelihood, where we do farming for the sustenance of our family and children. Our children mostly those who had graduated have no job, they engage in farming in the forest reserve.

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“The people from Delta state encroached a very great extent from one side of the forest reserve area. The only area left for us that we are farming which is not sufficient for our farming population is where the governor is planning to give to oil palm investors.

“In Orogho area, where part of this forest reserve area was handed over to Presco Oil Palm investor were they planted palm tree, today the people in that area are suffering. So, we don’t want that to repeat itself again in the little land left”, he said.

While noting that Orhionmwon local government don’t have land to lease to any investor, he said the governor should not keep the people of the community in hunger and starvation.

He, however, appealed to the state governor, Godwin Obaseki, to relocate Saro or any other palm investors to another local government area that have virgin land.

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