Hundreds of farmers living at Coker farm settlements in Ifo local government area of Ogun State have cried out for help from the government against alleged plan by some suspected land grabbers to eject them from their homes and farms. The farmers who made the complaint under the aegis of farm Settlers Association in Ogun State raised the alarm that, land grabbers popularly called ‘Omo-Onile’ are now forcefully taking over their farm settlements. According to them mostly aged men and women,their farm lands are being sold randomly by land speculators, adding that land grabbers and sand diggers have taken over larger part of the 7, 000 hectares of the settlement.
Speaking on behalf of other affected farmers, the Secretary of the settlement and the State Secretary of Farm Settlers Association, Kazeem Adediran and Afolabi Kufo respectively blamed the activities on connivance with government officials. The farmers appealed to the federal government not to allow eight settlements inherited by Ogun State government from the old Western Region go into extinction,stating that the same is the situation with other seven settlements across the State. The duo lamented that the land grabbers have destroyed invaluable cash crops including rubber, cocoa, oil palm,as well as other plantations.
The State Secretary explained that the purposes for the establishment of the settlements which were to provide foods for the populace and raw materials for theindustry are being defeated by the alleged non-challant attitude of the state government. Kufo in his own comment explained that the lands were acquired by late Obafemi Awolowo in 1958 and that adequate compensation were paid to the land owners. He said the encroachment started during the regime of Olusegun Osoba but was worsened when former Governor Gbenga Daniel was advised to release part of the land to land owners.The farm settlements according to Kufo accounted for 50 per cent of food produce in the markets and 50% of raw materials available for agro based industries in the old western region. The farm settlers however blamed Governor Ibikunle Amosun for paying lip services to the agitations of the settlers since he came on board.Speaking further,the association scribe said the settlements presented their position during the sitting of a panel of inquiry on land matters set up by the state government in 2012 but that Amosun failed to implement the white paper released on the committee’s report.
However,a copy of the white paper distributed at the conference indicated that the government accepted the recommendations of the commission on Coker Farm settlement.In his own remark, Chairman of the farm settlers association, Adeola Olubakin appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene alleging that Ogun State government is only after the collection of rents and not the existence of the farm. Olubakin, a retired army major who was furious over the development, said the landgrabbers activities have led to huge loss for large number of settlers, and also turned many farming undergraduates to being jobless now.
Vanguard observed that those, who engage in the selling of the farm lands are prominent personalities in the state.Whereas, the farmers were downtrodden whose voice could not be heard because of their status in the society.Most of them while speaking with our correspondent said if the land grabbers succeed in ejecting them from their farm settlement, they have no place to fall backon.