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ECOWAS Court To Hear Land-grabbing Charges Edo Agrarian Communities Filed Against Governor Obaseki

ECOWAS court sets up committees over unimplemented judgments

THE Court of Jurisdiction of the Economic Communities of West Africa States (ECOWAS), residing in Abuja, the Nigerian capital city, has set aside, 9th July, 2024 to hear a suit filed by hundreds of Edo agrarian communities, against the government of Edo State and its governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, over alleged grabbing and destruction of their aboriginal forest reserves, farmlands and crops.

This was contained in the notice of hearing that emanated from the sub-regional Court, as directed to the Okpamakhin Community Initiative (OCI), an NGO, that stands for the plaintiff local communities and the Federal Government of Nigerian (FGN), who also stands-in for the Edo state government on the case-file Ref: ECW/CCJ/APP/22/22, which also bothers on deforestation, livelihood loss and dispossession of local communities.

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Amidst heavy protests all over the state by local communities and the civil society ECI and the communities had in May, 2022 sued the state government through the service of notable lawyer, President Aigbokhan.

Disturbed that that Governor Obaseki continued with the forced acquisition and bulldozing of the said land, despite the court process, OCI and the Communities had received a reply from the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, on behalf of the FGN (REF: dated 16th September, 2022. Signed by Maimuna Lami Shiru (Mrs.), Ag. Director Civil Litigation & Public Law Department of the Federal Ministry of Justice, it stated that their petition had been forwarded to State Attorney-General & Commissioner of Justice, for comments and further action.

Also about a month ago, OCI’s head and the Coalition Against Landgrabbing and Deforestation (CALD), a body that fronts for the numerous local communities cutting across over 10 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state, who are alleged to be victims of the land grabbing, again reacted to the press statement issued by Governor Obaseki that the state government was again acquiring over 47,000 hectares of the communities’ last vestiges of the rainforest of diverse wildlife species and community’s farmlands to private investors, for single-crop oil pam plantation.

The Okpamakhin Community Initiative (OCI) head, Comrade Tony Erha and Chief Reuben Aizenabor, Community Relations Coordinator of CALD, had through a widespread press statement urged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the relevant authorities to immediately investigate and try the governor and his business fronts on the subjects, particularly the N69 billion and other funding from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), sunk into the oil palm project in the state, as then spearheaded by Governor Obaseki and Mr. Godwin Emefiele, the immediate-past Governor of CBN, in which intended local oil palm growers and recipients of the funding were sidelined, with the matter long reported to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), for investigation and deterrence

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