Farmers at Urhonigbe community in Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo State have staged a peaceful protest, demanding cancellation of the leasing of the forest reserve in their area to a company for oil palm cultivation.
The protesters, who are mostly old men, women and youths, said the forest was their only means of livelihood and asked the state government to rescind its decision.
The spokesperson for the protesters, Famous Egharevba, said they don’t have land to lease to investors for the cultivation of oil palm plantation.
“Urhonigbe forest reserve is our only means of livelihood, where we do farming for the sustenance of our family and children who are graduates but have no job and engaged in farming in the forest reserve,” he said.
Egharevba said the community voted for the governor for his first tenure and the reelection for second term but were yet to benefit any project from him.
He said part of the forest have been encroached upon by people from Delta State, adding that the only area left for them for farming is where the governor is planning to give to oil palm investors.
“In Orogho area, where part of this forest reserve area was handed over to an oil palm investor, today the people in that area are suffering. So, we don’t want that to also happen here in the little land left for us,” he said.
He appealed to Governor Godwin Obaseki to relocate the company to another local government area that has virgin land.