OWAN LGAs Takes Obaseki to ECOWAS Court over Takeover of Forest Reserves


The Agrarian communities who are about 45 in possession of vast forest reserves spanning four local government areas of Owan East, Owan West, Ovia North-East and Uhunmwonde have filed a lawsuit challenging the forceful take over of the forest reserves by the Edo state government .

The suit was filled before the Community Court of Justice of Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS), Abuja, .

The suit (reference no. ECW/CCJ/APP/22/22) was filed on May 11 by the Incorporated Trustees of the Okpamakhin Community Initiative (first plaintiff), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) comprising farmers and other land users drawn from the cluster communities (clans) of Orhue, Ozalla, Ora, Iuleha, Sobe and others. The second plaintiffs are eight farmers and land users of the forest zone.

The suit was instituted about a year ago when Obaseki, in conjunction with the Central Bank (CBN), inaugurated a N69 billion fund to establish oil palm plantations in Edo. Obaseki announced that he earmarked tens of thousands of forest reserves for theproject.

The statutory defendant in the suit is the Federal Government, which stands in for state governments on such matters as with the ECOWAS Court.

In the suit, the first and second plaintiffs prayed the ECOWAS court to, among other things, protect their inalienable rights and get a judgment against Obaseki’s administration, which had ceded their communities’ vast ancestral forest reserves to private investors without their consent.

They also want the court to stop the Edo government’s forceful takeover of their ancestral land, with undue harassment of the communities and the locals by heavily armed policemen.

According to them, the land within the two forest reserves of Owan BC 10 Forest Reserve and Iuleha/Ora/Ozalla, forming a larger part of the Owan Forest Zone, are the communities’ mainstay acquired by the British colonial government, which was duly accountable to local communities, owners of the land, unlike the Edo government that is acting with flagrant disregard.

Source: Owan Life News

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