A Socio-cultural organisation, Okpamakhin Initiative, has sent a passionate appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, to save the villages of Orhua, Oke, Umokpe and Ekpan in Irhue Clan, Uhunmwode Local Government Area of Edo State, from imminent attacks by over 500 suspicious men carrying sophisticated guns, bows and arrows, cutlasses and other dangerous weapons, suspected to be herdsmen.
In a statement in Benin on Monday, the group alleged the fierce looking men were transported to Oke-Irhue in the Clan by the Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc, apparently to unleash terror on the innocent villagers.
It will be recalled that the communities have been in a running battle with Okomu Oil Palm Company over land related issues.
The statement signed by Co-ordination of the group, Comrade Tony Erha and Deputy Co-ordinator General, Patrick Erhunsee, read in part: “We wish to appeal to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari and the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, to use their good offices to immediately rescue the villages of Orhua, Oke, Umokpe and Ekpan in Irhue Clan, Uhunmwode Local Government Area of Edo State, from imminent attacks by over 500 suspicious men carrying sophisticated guns, bows and arrows, cutlasses and other lethal weapons, who were transported to Oke-Irhue in the Clan, by the Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc, apparently to unleash terror; killing, bloodletting and mayhem against innocent villagers of our Irhue Clan, as a punishment for the refusal of the Irhue Clan to allow the forceful acquisition of the over 8,000 hectares of our forest reserve, which was illegally sold by Iyayi Group of Companies to A & Hatman Limited and resold to Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc by A & Hatman Ltd, which the Edo State Government has for long revoked and gazetted.
“Yesterday, 1st May 2016, the innocent habitants of Oke-Irhue village end of the Irhue Clan were shocked to see several truckloads of the strange and suspicious armed men moved into the village, while more of them moved into the village by road and the bushes. Although the Ehor Police Division in the LGA were drafted to the village, the dangerous looking men were again driven from Uhiere town, the next village, before the Okomu Oil Palm, their major sponsor, have moved them into the bush camp of the Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc, which the Edo State Government has revoked.
“From this camp, the dangerous looking men are now on the prowl to attack innocent villagers, who, due to their intimidating presence, are afraid to go their farms, source of water and even out of the village, for fear of getting killed and maimed. We are now held hostage in our own land, by Dr. Graham Heifer, Managing Director of the Okomu Oil Company Plc, a South African national, who willfully violates the Nigerian law and tries to impose apartheid in Nigeria, where it has been thought dead in his native South Africa. And in the case of the wanton killing and maiming of our people, Dr. Heifer and Dr. Isi Aletor, A & Hatman Nigeria Ltd should be held responsible.
“During Irhue Clan’s recent visit to the Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Aliu Oshiomhole, in Edo Government House, on behalf of the Irhue Community, Edo State Government made it sufficiently clear that the forest land, upon which Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc now wants a pound of flesh, is public land, and Okumu Oil Palm Company Plc and others should vacate the land and stop planting on the land they had already bulldozed.
“Although our communities have had minor disagreements with the Fulani herdsmen of recent, and the issues had been resolved amicably, and grazing on the land has continued, we do not want the Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc, to hide under this ploy to bring hardened gunmen and foreign mercenaries to attack, kill and maim our people, who are innocent.
“In support of letters already written to Governor Oshiomhole and President Buhari, on this sore matter, we call on President Buhari and the Inspector General of Police to curb forthwith the excess and impunities of Dr. Heifer and Dr. Aletor.
“The Okpamakhin Initiative is a grassroots development Coalition, seeking the freedom and liberty of the Irhue Clan villages of Orhua, Oke, Umokpe and Ekpan”, the statement said.