Some cocoa farmers at Ofosu in Idanre Local Government Area of Ondo State have protested alleged sales of their farmland to a foreign company by the state government.
The protesters, who blocked the popular Lagos/Benin Expressway, carried placards with different inscriptions such as: ”Respect Our Right to Livelihood”, “Don’t Give Our Land to Mindless Capitalists”, ”We Want to Remain Farmers and not Armed Robbers”.
Others are: ”No Farmers, No Nation. Please Don’t Take our Farms” and “Have Mercy in Us. Don’t Take our Farms”.
Speaking to Journalists during the protest, the Sasare of Ofosu, Chief Kazeem Akinrimisi, noted that he had been farming on the land for over 20 years, stressing that they had been paying their “dues to the state government agencies for farming on the government reserve for years”.
He said that no fewer than 25,000 were captured in data registration of farmers by the state government, adding that they had been cooperating with the government directives since 2019 without any misunderstanding between the two parties.
Akirimisi, who said that he paid N6million as his dues for farming on the land to the state internally generated revenue agency in 2021, pleaded with the government to allow the farmers acquire the land instead of being under foreigners.
According to him, the farmers occupy 74 camps of the community on 20,000 acres of land.
Also, Elder Ezekiel Otatunji, an octagenarian, asked the government to consider means of livelihood of the farmers.
Olatunji said: “I have been farming on the land for over 20 years and I have paid N1.2 million as his due to the government. I was surprised for the government’s readiness to sell the land to foreigners, saying that cocoa is a major foreign exchange to Nigeria”.
The octogenarian asked the state governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, to allow the farmers to be paying their dues as before.
The Olu of Ofosu, Oba Henry Olumakaye, appealed to the farmers to be calm and not be violent.
Oba Olumakaye asked them to be peaceful, promising that the palace was planning to hold a meeting with the state government on Tuesday.
Samuel Awolola, who said that he had been on the land for 27 years, asked the government to show mercy to the farmers, promising that the farmers would continue to be paying their dues as expected.
He said that Obada Camp of the community had paid N9 million out of N10 million for the farming dues in 2021 to the government.