People of the Illushi Community in the Esan South East Local Government Area of Edo State have called on the management of Skaff International Agro Farms Limited, a rice farming company, to vacate their land, which they have alleged was illegally acquired without their knowledge.
This development was made known by Francis Abamu, the community’s spokesperson, who claimed that the agro company’s management conspired with Esan South East’s executive chairman and other persons in the community to acquire the land without their consent.
He further complained that locals no longer have land with which to carry out their farming activities, adding that 65 percent of it had been leased to the company for 99 years and that the huge expanse of land in question is the only upland in the community.
“Erosion has taken over the land we have. The only hope we have if the erosion continues, where we will relocate to is sold or leased to this Lebanese man and the pain is now very deep in us,” Abamu shared.
Contesting the claims, Anthony Skaff, chief executive officer of the company, insisted that the company had gone through all the proper channels and that the land was not acquired illegally.
“When I intended to go into agriculture for rice farming and rubber plantation, first I wrote to the Agricultural Development Authority to seek their approval and advise [sic] who in return wrote me back and welcomed the idea,” Skaff said.
“After my findings, I met with the community and over 200 youth and 14 elderly chiefs who gave their consent and approved with a lot of incentives such as borehole, hospital, schools, scholarship, among others. It was after then that I met with the government for approval.”