Elders of four agrarian villages namely Orhua, Oke, Umokpe and Ekpan in Irhue Clan, Uhunmwode Local Government Area of Edo State have raised an alarm over what they said amounts to an, “invasion”, of their communities by suspicious men carrying sophisticated guns, bows and arrows, cutlasses and other lethal weapons.
In a statement, signed by Comrade Tony Erha and Patrick Erhunsee, Coordinator General and Deputy Director of Okpamakhi Initiative, on behalf of the communities, they said they have it on good authority that the “invaders” were transported to Oke-Irhue in the Clan, by the multi-national firm, Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc.
”Although our communities have had minor disagreements with the Fulani herdsmen of recent, and the issues had been resolved amicably, and grazing on the land has continued, we do not want the Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc, to hide under this ploy by renting gunmen and foreign mercenaries to attack, kill and maim our defenceless people”.
They also said the community dwellers were now living in fear because they know that the men were employed to, “unleash terror, kill, blood-letting and cause mayhem against innocent villagers of our Irhue Clan”.
It is, “punishment for the refusal to allow the forceful acquisition of the over 8,000 hectares of our forest reserve, which was illegally sold by Iyayi Group of Companies to A & Hatman Limited and resold to Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc by A & Hatman Ltd, which the Edo State government has for long revoked and gazetted”.
They said, “On 1st May, 2016, the innocent habitants of Oke-Irhue village end of the Irhue Clan were shocked to see several truckloads of the strange and suspicious armed men moved into the village, while some of them moved into the village by road and the bushes”.
They then appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, to use their good offices to immediately rescue their communities from annihilation by those they called invaders.
Meanwhile, indications are that Policemen from the Ehor Police Division in Uhinwonde were drafted to the villages, and they succeeded in driving out the dangerous looking men from Uhiere town, the next village.
Contacted, Dr. Graham Heifer, Managing Director of the Okomu Oil Company Plc, a South African national, was said to be outside the country.
However, it was gathered that Edo State governor, Comrade Adams Aliu Oshiomhole recently told Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc and others to vacate the land and stop planting on the land they had already bulldozed.