By Oluwatope Lawanson

The Afero/Itoikin Epe Commercial Farmers Cooperative has urged the Lagos State Government to intervene in an alleged land invasion by security operatives and its attendant harassments.

This, they said, was to engender continued farming activities and promote food security in the state.

Mr Wale Oyekoya, Chairman of the Cooperative, made the call at a news conference and peaceful protest at the Lagos State House of Assembly on Tuesday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the protesters hoisted several placards with various inscriptions.

“No To Military Invasion, Farmers Are Human, No Farmers No Nation,
among others, Sanwo-Olu Compensate us, were some of the inscriptions on display during the protest.

Oyekoya said the farmers suffered series of human right abuses from security operatives who invaded their farmlands in Itoikin, Epe area of Lagos State.

According to him, over 300 hectares of land were invaded thereby causing huge loss and rendering the farmers jobless.

“This development has greatly and negatively impacted our only source of livelihood which was farming hence disrupting the agricultural sector of the economy.

He recalled that in 2014, the Lagos state government sent letter to Bama Farms Ltd. about plans to relocate the farm to pave way for Lekki International Airport.

Oyekoya stated that himself and other farmers joined hands to engage late Rotimi Williams, SAN, and were eventually compensated and relocated to Eluju Mowo/Mutaku area, Ibeju, Epe in 2015 by Lagos State former Gov. Raji Fashola.

He, however, noted that they started having problem from the landowners popularly known as ‘Omoonile’ and the hooligans immediately they took over the farms.

“Thugs will come and disturb our farms destroying our crops and steal our livestock and as time went by, they brought thugs and estate developers to destabilise us.

“The estate developers started building on our farmlands and we reported all this to the government through the governor, Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Survey, Commerce and Justice with no response or action from them.

“The omonile grew wings by harassing and threatening us with hired security operatives with frivolous charges and lawsuits on a land that was allocated to us by Lagos state government.

“The truth is, we have been through hell and hardship and LASG turned deaf ear to our problems,” he said.

Oyekoya said the cooperative efforts through the ministry of agriculture through the Agric Land Holding Authority which cost them almost one million Naira yielded no effect.

This development, according to him, was reported to the governor of Lagos’s office, the Attorney General office, the commissioner and permanent secretary to the ministry of agriculture and nothing was done up to this moment.

This, he said, gave the “omoonile” and estate developers more power to harass, threaten and disturb their farm businesses.

“Series of attacks was done on our farm activities unabated without the government intervention to help us on the land that was allocated to us.

“We do not want to believe there is some collaborations between the government agencies, ministries, the `omoonile’ and the estate developers against the farmers.

“Recently, precisely five weeks ago, December 2023 the military came with full force beating people up and sending people away from their properties as farmers were not exempted.

“Bama Farms with about 100 hectares of land is the hardest hit as his farms was taken over by the military, the fences broken, crops and properties bulldozed and all it’s farm workers have disappeared out of fear and intimidation thereby affecting other farming activities.

“The question now is, why did Lagos state allocate us to the military land? Why did they refuse to attend to our cry for help?

“Why did they refuse to issue us Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) on the land allocated to us? Why did they refuse to engage the farmers when the military invaded our farms over a month ago?,” He queried.

Oyekoya urged the Lagos state government to provide adequate compensation, immediate relocation with C of O and sort out payment on the lands.

Addressing the protesters, Mr Adedamola Kasumu the Deputy Majority Leader of the Lagos State House of Assembly, who spoke on behalf of the Speaker assured that the matter attended to urgently.

While reiterating the commitment of the Speaker to the welfare of the people of the state, Kasumu thanked the protesters for being peaceful. NAN

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