Protest rocks Ondo as farmers kick against sales of farmland to private company

— Says over 2,000 hectares of farmland sold, 10,000 farmers to be displaced

— Two million cocoa trees to be destroyed

— Approach court asking for revocation of Certificate of Occupancy

Cocoa farmers in the Oluwa Forest Reserve in eight settlements, in the Odigbo council area of Ondo state, have protested against the sales of 2,000 hectares of their farmland to a private company by the Ondo state government.

The over 10,000 farmers and tenants of the state government in the Government Fores Reserve, said that officials of the state government sold the land in the forest reserve to a company in which they have vested interests.

According to them, the sales of the lands in the Government Forest Reserve was in ” violation of the forestry laws of Ondo state and other relevant laws.

Addressing newsmen, the chairman of the Oluwa Forest Reserve Farmers, Abayomi Rotimi lsinleye, Secretary Odugbemi Omolewa and the Head of farmers, ljoba camp, lrewole Muse, said that they have been farming on the land for over 30 years.

According to them, “the various settlements grouped into camps include, ljoba, Sete11, lpade, Ayeleso, lsero, Temidire, Adeleye ltamerin and their sub- camps, within Oluwa forest reserve ( 0A3A) Odigbo council area of Ondo state.

The farmers lamented that the private company, ACME Palms Limited, armed with a Certificate of Occupancy, issued by the government, dated July 23, 2021, said they had bought 2000.482 hectares of the state government forest reserve land and served them quit notice.

According to them ” They entered into the forest reserve to commence the process of grading and forceful taking over the forest reserve where about 10,000 farmers who are Ondo state government tenants, have cultivated over two million cocoa trees before the alleged sale of the land.

” While we know that the government can grant permission or license to people to log or farm in the forest reserve we did not know and believe government forest reserve land could be sold outrightly to private investors.

” Our findings have unearthed shady deals, potential conflicts of interest and compromise of public interest, the interest of the people of Ondo state and integrity of the entire process of this sale of government forest land to these private investors.

Speaking with newsmen, their lawyer, Tope Temokun, alleged that some government officials are involved in the sales and purchase of the 2000.482 hectares of the Ondo state government forest reserve land and issuance of the certificate of occupancy.

Temokun alleged that public officer holders” veiled under registered companies are the ones forming business alliances and buying up government forest reserve land under their control for their private business while using the instrumentality of their various public offices to protect this private interest arrangement.

According to him, ” these discoveries do not only undermine the integrity of the purported sale of government property and using the influence of public office to perfect documentation of such sale but discloses an apparent conflict of interest which raises serious legal and ethical concerns.

” Upon these discoveries, we called on the state governor Lucky Aiyedatiwa, to investigate the sales of land in the government forest reserve and the conflict of interest of some public office holders involved.

Temokun said that the farmers have also approach the court asking the court for “A declaration that the 1st defendant’s purported sale to the 6th defendant of the land measuring 2000.482 hectares of the Government forest reserve land within Oluwa Forest Reserve (OA3A), Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State and the issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy dated 23rd of July 2021 and registered as No.59 at page 59 in Volume 767 of the Lands Registry of Ondo State, in violation of the Forestry Laws of Ondo State and other relevant laws, is illegal, null and void and of no effect.

“A consequential order of the Court, setting aside and nullifying the Certificate of Occupancy purportedly issued to the 6th defendant by the 1st defendant, dated 23rd of July 2021 and registered as No.59 at page 59 in Volume 767 of the Lands Registry of Ondo State.

“A declaration that the claimants’ rights of possession over the farmlands granted and/or rented out to them by the 1st defendant covering the camps of Ijoba, Sete II, Ipade, Ayeleso, Isero, Temidire and Adeleye Itamerin and their sub-camps, within Oluwa Forest Reserve (OA3A), Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State and covering the land measuring 2000.482 hectares of the Government forest reserve land within Oluwa Forest Reserve (OA3A), Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State covered by the Certificate of Occupancy dated 23rd of July 2021 and registered as No.59 at page 59 in Volume 767 of the Lands Registry of Ondo State, still subsists, subject only to the lawful determination of the Claimants’ rights of possession and/or lawful exercise of the powers vested on the 1st defendant exercisable by the Forestry Laws of Ondo State and other relevant laws.

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 6th Defendant and its privies or agents, from further exercising any ownership or possessory rights over the land measuring 2000.482 hectares of the Government forest reserve land in Ondo State under the Certificate of Occupancy dated 23rd of July 2021 and registered as No.59 at page 59 in Volume 767 of the Lands Registry of Ondo State.

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 6th Defendant and its privies or agents, from forcefully evicting the claimants or grading the Claimants’ crops or uprooting the Claimants’ crops or doing anything adverse to the claimants’ right of possession over the land granted and/or rented out to the claimants by the 1st defendant covering the camps of Ijoba, Sete II, Ipade, Ayeleso, Isero, Temidire and Adeleye Itamerin and their sub-camps, within Oluwa Forest Reserve (OA3A), Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State and covering the land measuring 2000.482 hectares of the Government forest reserve land within Oluwa Forest Reserve (OA3A), Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State covered by the Certificate of Occupancy dated 23rd of July 2021 and registered as No.59 at page 59 in Volume 767 of the Lands Registry of Ondo State.

The defendants in the case include the state government, the Attorney General and Justice Commissioner, Ministry of Agriculture, the Commissioner for Agriculture, ACME Palms Limited and others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *