Crisis looms in Ago-Emokpae, Iguoghor communities over farmland

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Foreign investors from Vietnam, China and Israel are reported to have acquired large areas of farmland in Nigeria's Edo State for the production of rice, cassava and livestock.

Nigerian Tribune | 11 April 2011

by Uchechukwu Olisah, Benin City

Communal crisis appears to be brewing between Ago-Emokpae and Iguoghor communities, both in Ovia North East Local Government Area of Edo State over alleged takeover of farmland belonging to Ago-Emokpae by the Enogie of Iguoghor, Nogieru Omokaro.

The communities, which are located three miles apart and said to be predominantly agrarian, were reported to have lived in peace and harmony until recently.

The Ago-Emokpae community in a statement jointly signed on their behalf by the Odionwere, Mr. Samuel Ogunsuyi and secretary, Mr. Ben Ero and copied to the Oba of Benin, accused Enogie Omokaro of taking the land under the guise of initiating development projects.

The statement further alleged that the act of the Enogie was generating a lot of tension which could result to bloody clashes and loss of lives as the people of Ago-Emokpae community had been deprived of their means of livelihood.

The Ago-Emokpae community leaders advised the Enogie of Iguoghor to leave their “farmlands alone and site his development projects in his community, Iguoghor, not Ago-Emokpae.”

They said they did not know if the said Enogie had genuine intention to attract development projects, alleging that “his desire to acquire our farmlands is for his own selfish interest as he does not have the interest of our people at heart.”

According to them, “It will interest you to note that though the said N. Omokaro said he was bringing foreign investors to carry out the various development projects on the large expanse of farmlands, there is nothing on ground to show that his intentions are genuine.”

The community leaders insisted that “Ago-Emokpae is an entity of his own with a constituted authority. We have lived as a community over the last century or thereabout. We cannot accept a situation where another community or persons lord himself or themselves over us and take over our farmlands under the pretence of faceless development projects.”

They called for the quick intervention of the relevant authorities in the matter with a view to preventing breakdown of law and order that might lead to the loss of lives and property.

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