Monday, April 12, 2021 8:44 am
By Richard Elesho/ Lokoja
The Ebira people living in Bolorunduro, a farming community in Ado-Ekiti, capital of Ekiti have cried foul over the way their farms and houses are being demolished to give way for the airport project being constructed in the area.
They are therefore appealing to Governor Kayode Fayemi to consider payment of compensation to them for the destroyed houses and farmlands
Speaking during an interaction with journalists in Lokoja, the capital of Kogi State at the weekend, Isah Sa’ed spokesperson of the farmers said the state government had acquired over 40,000 acres of land in Bolorunduro community for the project, thereby affecting their livelihood.
“When they started fencing the land last year we asked them what will be the fate of farmers using the land and they told us that there will be no problem and that whenever it was time to commence work on the construction of the airport, the farmers will be given prior notice and be adequately compensated. We stood by that assurance and started cultivating our portion of the land and we have planted yams, cassava , cocoa yam and even pepper.
‘But to our surprise just last month the company handling the project by name Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company rolled out their earth moving equipment and started demolishing our houses and destroying our crops worth several millions of naira.
“The Ebira people farming in this community have lived there for over 100 years, our great, great grandfathers settled in this community to earn a living through farming and today we are over 2,000 in population and many of us were born and brought up in this community.
‘We are aware that if government is embarking on such project, the occupants of the land will be compensated and relocated and to that effect. We heard over the radio that the state government has released the sum of 500 million naira to compensate the affected farmers in the community.
‘But to our surprise, when the Deputy Governor of the state came to the community few months ago to inspect the location of the airport, we tried to tender our complaints, but he did not give us a listening ear because they said the compensation was limited to economic trees such as cocoa , palm trees, banana, kolanut and orange.
‘We are surprised that the Ebira people who farmed Yams, Cassava , cocoa yam and other cash crops were not part of the compensation and relocation.
‘As I’m talking to you now, some of our houses have been demolished without any form of compensation , we are homeless and our children , wives and elderly people are completely traumatized and hopeless.
‘Already we are in a state of confusion because we have families to cater for and our means of livelihood had been destroyed while we watch helplessly because we don’t have any body to assist us talk to the state government, we have been unjustly excluded from the compensation list.
“As farmers we are law abiding, we contribute often to the economic growth of Ekiti state. We pay our taxes regularly and we give honorarium to the traditional institutions in the state on yearly basis.
“We are not claiming that the land belongs to us but this is the community where we live for many years and cultivate the land to earn our living and training our children but suddenly we were being treated as if we are not Nigerians
“Therefore , we are appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State to please prevail on Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi to compensate us for the crops and houses we have lost as a result of construction of the airport at Bolorunduro community,” he added
Also speaking a 90 years old man by name Mallam Abu Yahaya, who said he was born in the community and his father was equally born in the community pleaded with Ekiti State government not to treat them as second class citizens
His words: ” I grew up to meet my parents farming in this community and I am dumbfounded the way and manner the present government is treating us.
“Please I am begging the Governor of Ekiti state to look into our plights with a view to assisting us, otherwise many of us will face untimely deaths due to stress from over thinking.
‘The governor should please ask whoever is in charge to pay us compensation of our crops so that we can move to another area to settle,” he pleaded.