French firm in row over land

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APA | 24 October 2014

French firm in row over land

The French agricultural firm, Socofin, which has a huge investment in Sierra Leone, has denied involvement in a recent controversial trip by a leading member of a pressure group challenging its activities in the country.

The Socofin Agricultural Company Sierra Leone Limited has an oil palm plantation in the Malen Chiefdom in the Pujehun District in Southern Sierra Leone.

The company has met with strong resistance since its inception as locals in its operating area accused it of illegally acquiring their lands.

Several clashes have led to injuries and even deaths, with loss of properties.

Recently, a leading member of the local resistance group, a former member of parliament, Sheka Sama, traveled to Paris in France.

Local media reports at the time claimed he traveled through an invitation by the company to discuss land issues.

But Socofin, in a statement on Friday, denied this, calling it “shocking” and said it was “totally dismayed” by it.

“The management hereby formally dissociates itself from having engaged Mr Sheka Sama into any dialogue on behalf of Malen Chiefdom landowners as widely clamed, let alone inviting him to any meeting as stated in those radio broadcast,” it said in a statement Friday.

Sources in Pujenhun told APA that local chiefs who have been accused by the aggrieved locals as siding with the investors might have protested against the possibility that Socofin was negotiating with Mr Sama, who is not recognized by them as their legitimate voice.
Original source: APA
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