By Ozioruva Aliu, Benin-City
Some communities where Okomu Palm Oil Plc allegedly acquired farmland to expand its operations have cried out over an alleged forceful occupation of their land.
They alleged that the action of the company has rendered them homeless and pleaded with the relevant authorities to come to their aid.
The victims made this known in an International Alliance Meeting Against Industrial Oil Palm Plantations in West and Central Africa through Zoom in Benin City.
Some of the displaced female farmers and artisans including Hajia Hajarat Abdullahi expressed disappointment over the use of brute force by the military to “dislodge, dislocate, and disperse villages and settlements without rehabilitation or adequate compensation.”
One of the occupants of traditional stool in the affected communities, the Fiyewei of Okomu Kingdom, Chief Ajele Sunday while lamenting the plight of the people called for justice. Also, Mrs Juliet Ikuku and Hellen Joseph said the activities of the company over the years have been characterized by violations of citizens’ rights.
But reacting to the allegation, an elder of the area, Chief Isaac Osasuyi said the allegation was false and baseless adding that Okomu Oil has been performing its social responsibilities to the communities.
He also said that since the over forty years existence of the company, it has never gone outside its jurisdiction to encroach on community land adding that those protesting were being sponsored.
On his part, the public relations officer, Okomu Palm oil plc, Mr Fidelis Olise dismissed the allegation noting that there was no rift between the villagers and the firm.