Farmers cultivating cocoa in the Oluwa Forest Reserve, Odigbo Local Government Area, Ondo State, have appealed to the State’s Commissioner of Police, Asabi Abiodun, seeking protection against the reported assaults from suspected hoodlums.
The farmers have alleged that the assaults against them commenced after the issuance of a restraining order by the state High Court in Ore, which barred the state government and other defendants from conducting any activities on the land.
As per the farmers, an agro-allied company had been asserting its rights over the cocoa farmlands, claiming that the state government had leased the land to them.
However, the farmers explained that a court injunction served to the company in May this year had restrained any activity on the land.
At a briefing in Akure, the state capital, on Wednesday, the farmers revealed that they had been under attack by hoodlums in the area since the court’s order in May.
Mr. Abayomi Isinleye, the chairman of the cocoa farmers in the community, pointed out that the suspected hoodlums were assaulting them in order to evict them from the farmland.
He mentioned that a protest letter, presented by their lawyer, Mr. Tope Temokun, had been lodged at the office of the state’s Commissioner of Police.
‘We also recovered some bullets and caps from them, which had been taken to the police area command in Ore to lay our formal complaint.’
‘Earlier, over the invasion and grading of our cocoa farms lands in the reserve and forceful attempt of eviction of our members from the reserve, we have filed a case in court.’
‘Upon the application moved by our lawyer, Mr. Tope Temokun, the Ondo State High Court at Ore, presided by Justice Aderemi Adegoroye, granted an interim injunction restraining the Ondo State Government and others from further grading or continuing to grade our cocoa plantations and farmlands.’
He labeled the action as an invitation to disorder, underscoring that the farmlands were the farmers’ sole lifeline.
Mr. Odugemi Omolewa, the secretary of the group, pleaded with the state government to protect them from being ousted from their means of sustenance.
‘Many of the farmers’ relatives had died while many of the children had withdrawn from schools due to inability to work on the farmlands since the crisis started,’ he lamented.