Multinational agro firm, Edo community fight over land

Illushi community in the Esan South East Local Government Area of Edo State on Sunday asked the management of Skaff International Agro Farms Limited to vacate their land in the interest of peace, alleging that it was illegally acquired.

A spokesperson for the community, Pa Richard Enye, made the allegation while speaking to journalists in Illushi.

He alleged that the company connived with the chairman of the local government and some individuals in the community to acquire the land.

“The elders were not aware of the lease of this land. It was done illegally. The signing and the sales were done in a bush. For those who came before now, the practice has been to consult the elders before work commences.

“There is nowhere in this country where you will go and take land without informing community elders; no agreement, no survey and no lawyer involved. Erosion has taken over our land and the only place we can relocate to has been taken over by this Lebanese. The community has resolved that if the Lebanese wants to kill everybody on the land, let him go ahead,” he said.

Enye urged the state government to wade into the matter before it snowballed into a crisis that could lead to loss of lives and property.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Skaff International Agro Limited, Anthony Skaff, denied acquiring the land illegally.

He said, “Before I ventured into rice farming and rubber plantation, I wrote to the agricultural development authority to seek approval and advice and they wrote back to welcome the idea.

“After my findings, I met with the community, the royal father, over 200 youths from the community and 14 elderly chiefs who then gave their consent and approval with a lot of incentives such as borehole, hospital, schools, scholarship and many other things before I finally met with the government for approval.”

Also, the Esan South East LGA Chairman, Peter Aguele, said allegations of him conniving with Skaff to take over the land were baseless, adding that he did not have the right to cede land to anybody.

“If you see the documentation of the sales of the land, you will know that it was transacted over a year before I became the chairman of the council,” he added.

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