… Group decries alleged ‘militarization’ of farmland in Edo
ISESELE EZEKIEL, Benin
Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki yon Wednesday appointment Professor Julius Ihonvbere as Chairman, Strategic Planning Team, Governor’s Office, a statement endorsed by the Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie, said.
Others are: Chief Osaro Idah as Special Adviser on Political and Community Matters, Mr. Crusoe Osagie as Special Adviser, Media and Communication Strategy, Prince Joe Okojie as Special Adviser, Agriculture and Food Security Programme, Mr. Joseph Eboigbe as Special Adviser on Economic and Development Planning, Hon Gowon Yakubu, Special Adviser on Special Duties and Dr Joan Oviawe, Special Adviser on Basic Education.
A statement from the Office of the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, John Mayaki, said the appointment was in line with a promise made during an interview with Channels TV, which he granted after the Appeal Court judgment in Edo State, to announce major political appointments in his administration.
The statement revealed that the appointments were a call to duty, sacrifice and leadership for the new Special Advisers and that the inauguration ceremony would take place on Friday the 23rd of June, this year at the EXCO chambers of the Edo State Government House.
In another development, a group under the auspices of Stakeholders- Coalition for Protection of the Environment on Wednesday in Benin City, Edo State capital, protested over alleged ‘militarization’ of a parcel of land measuring 13,750 hectares by Okomu Oil Plc
The group, which comprises civil society members, farmers and environmentalists equally urged the state government to effect the order with which the government revoked the land during Governor Oshiomhole administration, precisely November 5, 2015
They claimed that the company did not only de-reserved the parcel of land which cuts across three local government areas of Ovia North East, Uhunmwode and Owan West, but forged ahead to bulldozed the forests and displaced over 60,000 rural farmers in the communities.
Spoke person for the group, Dr Godwin Uyi Ojo, Executive Director, Environmental Rights Action, said despite the revocation order, Okomu Oil continued to bulldoze the forest for the expansion of its large scale oil plantation
“As a state currently with the second highest deforestation rate in Nigeria after Cross River State, with Okomu Oil Palm becoming one of the major drivers of deforestation for oil palm cultivation in Nigeria, the company has continued to disregard the revocation order to further its expansion work.
“We urged the state government to enforce the revocation order on Okomu Oil and commence regeneration of the areas destroyed.”
But in a swift reaction, Mr. Fidelis Olise, the company’s Communication Officer, said there was no state government revocation order against the firm, adding that the federal government approved its Environmental Impact Assessment certificate.
For a better society