The Ekiti State Government has appealed to warring communities and owners of 55,000 hectares of land acquired and designated as an Agricultural Processing Zone to eschew violence, saying the initiative was intended to enhance food security and create jobs in the state.
The government made the appeal on Tuesday while interfacing with angry landlords from Iyemero, Esun, Odo- Oro, Itapaji, Ipao, Oke Ayedun, and Oke Ako Ekiti, who are owners of the sprawling parcels of land acquired by the government to propel the initiative.
The engagement stemmed from a letter received from the Ekiti State Ministry of Agriculture over agitations and displeasure among the land owners in the donor communities, where the lands were acquired.
The communities were led into the meeting by the Olu of Itapaji, Oba AbduKareem Adebanjo, Alaaye of Oke Ayedun, Oba Olufemi Aribisala, Onise of Odo- Oro, Oba Babatunde Jemilehin, and Elesun of Esun, Oba Babatunde Ogunsakin.
Others were the regent of Oke Ako Ekiti, Her Royal Highness Tinuade Adebayo, and the Chairman of Ajoni Local Council Development Area, Hon. Michael Ogungbemi.
The Deputy Governor, represented by the Permanent Secretary in her office, Abayomi Opeyemi, said the host communities in Ekiti North Senatorial district will enjoy speedy economic development if they allow the policy to thrive.
Mrs Afuye, in a statement by her Media Aide, Victor Ogunje, said the Ekiti State Technical Committee on Land Matters will visit the expansive land for boundary tracing so that each of the six towns would know their boundaries and what is contained on them.
She said; “When this programme fully begins, it is the host communities that will benefit most in terms of employment and business development. This will also help in curtailing the incidences of kidnappings that were rampant in that axis.
“Let us allow peace to reign by allowing the boundary commission to do the demarcation, so that there will be peace. What we are trying to do is to increase food production and create wealth and jobs for our people through commercial farming.
” I want to assure you that this government will not illegally deprive any community of the rights to ownership of their lands. When the government acquired lands, it is for the public interest.
“I appeal to you, let us be patient with the government. With this engagement, we have known that a lot of issues needed to be handled properly and that we are going to do so before the full commencement of the programme”.
In their responses, the monarchs appealed to the government to adhere strictly to processes guiding the acquisition of lands and as well stop the indiscriminate land clearing in the area before embarking on the demarcation of boundaries among towns.
They lamented that the engagement done for the acquisition of over 5,000 hectares of lands by the government for Agbeyewa Agribusiness Firm from the area under contention was shoddily done and that such should be corrected to foster peace.
“We are not against the government acquiring lands for farming. We know the importance and benefit to the local economy but it has to be properly done. Community engagement, issuance of notice to farmers and payment of compensations to those whose crops will be destroyed are very important issues to consider.
“Government should also look at the famine such action could cause and the environmental and atmospheric implications it will have on these towns because of aggressive tree felling that will be carried out by investors that will move into our lands”.
The Chairman of Ajoni Local Council Development Area, Michael Ogungbemi, urged the monarchs to ensure that nobody takes laws into his hands over the matter in their domains pending the resolution of the disagreement trailing the land matter.