Ajaji community in Illah, Oshimili north council of Delta state, has appealed for the intervention of the state government to restore peace following rampant intimidation of the people by soldiers.
In a three-page Save Our Soul ( SOS) Diokpa of the community, Francis Ndudi Chukwurah appealed to the state governor, Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, to rescue the Ajaji indigenes from an agro-allied company that engaged the soldiers to unleash mayhem in the area over the 533.97 hectares of the community ancestral farmland allegedly trespassed into by the company.
The community also wants the governor to prevail on the military authorities in Asaba to stop further deployment of soldiers to intimidate its indigenes as well as tenant farmers.
It stated that while the trespass is the subject of a pending court case, the erstwhile administration in the state went ahead to issue a Certificate of Occupancy to the company, Norsworthy Agro Allied Limited.
” We wonder how the state government could issue C of O to a private company in respect of ancestral land of a community when their trespass on that land is subject to litigation still pending in court.
“They even proceeded to gazette this illegality, and officials of Norsworthy exhibited these documents at the State CID, Asaba, when we appeared before the police.”
According to the Diokpa, the state chairman of the state steering committee on the matter, Dr Kingsley Emu, who is now the secretary to the state government, had earlier served the company draft of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) terms of settlement and deed of lease prepared by the then attorney general of the state following initial moves for out of court settlement.
Meanwhile, Diokpa Chukwurah also expressed concern over the arrest of 12 farmers by soldiers at Ngegwu, one of the community’s farm settlements.
“Those met at their farms planting crops, and others were taken away to Akwukwu Igbo police station, where they were detained overnight before being moved to CID Asaba. It is noteworthy that this is the second time our farmers are being arrested by soldiers at the behest of the company”, he said.
All efforts made to contact the company proved abortive, but the facilitator and head of the Steering committee, Dr Emu, who I secretary to the state government, said the company had not trespassed on the community land.
” I’m aware that the community had been paid compensation, so I don’t know what they want.
“We have an MoU fully executed to cover the parcel of land, both the reserved and the potion of Ajaji we took.
“They are signatories to it. They were paid compensation for economic crops, and they were also something for the community.
“Norsworthy has been a very peaceful company, and I don’t know what the community wants again. Any attempt to enter the land is an infringement”, he explained.