Farmers cry out, say Ekiti officials stealing crops from abandoned airport

Farmers displaced from the land earmarked by Ekiti State Government for the construction of an airport are seeking court protection over illegal evacuation of their crops by government agents.

The aggrieved farmers have told a state High Court in Ado Ekiti where they had filed a suit that despite the assurances given them by Governor Ayo Fayose at a meeting held with them on October 12, his agents still visit their farms on daily basis to cart away their produce.

The farmers and land owners in Igbogun, Igbemo, Iwajo, Aso, Ayegunle communities have dragged Fayose and other officials of state to court demanding N650 million compensation for damages incurred by them in the course of clearing the land for the airport.

In an affidavit in support of the Originating Summons deposed to by one of the plaintiffs, Fabiyi Osho, the farmers claimed that government agents have continued to cart away their farm produce acting under the pretext of purported revocation of their title to their lands.

He revealed that at another meeting held at the Government House, he was served with a copy of a document titled Land Use Act, 1978, Land required for the service of the Government of Ekiti State dated 18th September and purportedly signed by the 1st Defendant (Fayose).

Apart from the carting away of their crops, Osho in the affidavit exclusively obtained by The Nation on Tuesday averred that government bulldozers and graders wantonly destroyed cocoa trees, palm trees, kola trees, cassava, yam, cocoyam, plantain and banana plantations.

Osho averred: "I personally saw the officers of the 2nd and 3rd Defendant, who said they were acting under the instructions of the 1st Defendant, cart away food crops like hundreds of tubers of yam and cassava, harvested palm kernels from gelled palm trees, cocoa pods and cocoyam and loaded same into their vehicles.

"The men of the 2nd and 3rd Defendants, together with their hired hands also destroyed houses, huts, storage barns and carted away all goods, farm produce, personal chattels and utensils found therein.

"The men and officers of the 2nd and 3rd Defendant engaged the services of armed policemen who continued to intimidate, harass and threaten us whilst the destruction of our property, farms and farm produce went on unabated.

"No enumeration of crops, chattels, real property, fixtures, development, fittings or howsoever called was carried out on my land or any other land in our farms prior to the destruction of our property by the workmen and agents of the 2nd and 3rd Defendants acting under the instructions of the 1st Defendant.

"By the act of grading and leveling our farmlands, the said lands which had hitherto been our sole source of livelihood spanning generations till date have been gravely desecrated and vandalized without any prior notice.

"Unless restrained by an Order of this Honourable Court, the act of destruction of our crops and desecration of our farmlands would continue unabated with attendant and consequential huge, irreparable and colossal damage to us.

"Unless we are adequately compensated by this Honourable Court, we and  our horde of dependants and relations have suffered, are suffering and will continue to suffer untold hardship and massive peculiarly losses.

"Neither me nor any of the Claimants received any personal or individual notice of any purported acquisition of our lands, all we saw was the invasion of our farmlands by the officers and men of the Defendants who claim to be working under government acquisition for which we were never notified or made aware of at the time of the said invasion."



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