Favour Percy -Idubor, Benin
A farmer and businessman, Mr Ebose Ezeigbebe, has petition the Nigeria Police over threat to his life by Obenevburibo community in Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of Edo where his 2000 plots of palm farm and oil milling palm is located.
The petition dated August 11, 2020 and titled: “Threat of Violence, Threat to Life, Conduct Seeking to Breach Peace, Possession of Firearms” was addressed to the AIG Zone 5, Benin by lawyer to Ezeigbebe, Valentine Onochie & Co.
Ezeigbebe whose farm was recognised as the best Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme Fund (ACGSF) national farmer of the year 2011 under the Tree crops, said the threat was occasioned by his refusal to cede 50 plots of the land to the community.
He said the land which he purchased from the community in 1999, became a controversial one when the Obenevburibo community alleged that he (Ezeigbebe) has gone beyond the 2000 plots sold to him.
He explained that premised on this allegation, he and the community agreed to commission a surveyor to resurvey the land.
“My problem with the community began in 2018 when they approached me and asked that I give them 50 plots of land from what I bought from them, stating that what I had in my possesion was in excess of what they granted me.
“This was coming after 18 years of cultivating and milling oil palm; this was a surprise to me and I refused. They however insisted that I must hire a surveyor to re – survey the land.
“Not minding that the onus is on the community to hire a surveyor, I did in the interest of peace. It turned out that there were extra fractions amounting to three and half plots which i rounded up to four plots and gave the community in the interest of peace,” he said.
Ezeigbebe said instead of taking the four plots, the community refused because they had their sights set on 50 plots because two years passed wihout any word from the community and its elders.
Said he , “To my surprise, they invited me for a meeting on August 7, 2020, but the meeting was more or less like an ambush.
“The community demanded for 100 plots of land and requested that I either give them or they will take it violently and that it was out of pity that they have not already done so.
“They made it clear that they just killed somebody at the neighbouring community and so needed the plots of land to settle the matter with the neighbouring community.”
Ezeigbebe said he has been forced to shut down operations at the facility in order to avoid any unfortunate occurrence.
In their reaction howver, the community denied issuing any threat to the farmer, even as they agreed that an excess of three and half plots of land was discovered upon the survey carried out in 2018.
The Ohen (Second in Command) of the community, Pa Isaac Igiebor, however said the purported survey was carried out by Ezeigbebe.
According to him, “It is true that a meeting was held on August 7, 2020, though I was not in the meeting but the report I got was that there was no argument how much more threat”.
Igiebor also said some members of the community have been invited by the police in respect to the petition.
“We have been invited to appear by the police and we have already contacted our lawyers to that effect,” he stated.