By Emma ARUBI, Warri
THE multi-million naira Export Processing Zone (EPZ) project in Koko, Delta State is set to fail following the communityâ€™s anger over alleged illegal acquisition of 2929.288 hectres of their land by the state government without due consultation and compensation.
They are further outraged by government action in granting the said land out for rent at a whopping N69,818,610.00 per annum without any benefit accruing to the family.
The people in a protest march yesterday in Koko to the heads of the Iweroko and Ameran (Ugogomeje) families stated that the illegally acquired land was conveyed to a private foreign firm, Cole-church International Limited based in the United Kingdom.
Addressing newsmen at Koko yesterday on the acquisition matter, the head of the Iweroko and Ameren (Ugogomeje) family, Chief Victor Nana in company of the other six heads expressed their disappointment over the snobbish way and manner the government is going about the illegal occupation of their land noting that even when the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) exercise was carried out the family ws also not consulted as a stakeholder.
While stating that they are not opposed to an EPZ project for Koko because of its numerous benefits, they insisted however, that due process be followed as it is the practice the world over.
According to a statement by the family, â€œthe illegal acquisition of our land and subsequent government actions makes the EPZ seem like a stinking sausage or a pot of honey with dead flies.â€
They therefore challenge the government to set aside both the purported Certificate of Occupancy granted to Colechurch International Limited, the Environmental Impact Assessment Report, follow due process of acquiring the land and enter into genuine dialogue with the family if the government is sincere and well meaning in its intension.
While appealing to the Itsekiri nation, well meaning persons, the international and human rights community to come to their aid in this matter for the sake of peace and justice, they pointed out that the Lagos State Government paid adequate compensation to communities and signed an MoU with the people in the acquisition of the Lekki Free Trade Zone in Lagos, wondering why their would be different.
Condemning the government action, Real Estate business guru, Chief Hope Harriman said that as an elder statesman and an Itsekiri leader he cannot seat back in Lagos and see this kind of injustice metted on his people in a democracy and applauded the Koko people for their peaceful disposition in the face of this monumental provocation