Unrest in Ondo State as Armed Men Disrupt Farm Settlements

In a disturbing turn of events, armed men have launched an attack on farm settlements within the Oluwa Forest Reserve, located in the Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State. The assailants allegedly descended upon the Temidire area, causing havoc by destroying cocoa plantations and instilling fear among the local farmers.

Residents in the vicinity reported that the armed intruders resorted to firing shots into the air in an attempt to intimidate and drive them away from their farms. In the aftermath of the incident, Abayomi Isinleye, the chairman of the affected farmers, disclosed that they managed to apprehend one of the assailants and subsequently handed him over to the Police Area Command situated in Ore.

Isinleye went on to make a troubling accusation, claiming that the gunmen were acting on behalf of SAO Agro-Allied Services Limited, a company to which the state government had allocated their cocoa farms. Despite a court order that had explicitly forbidden the Agro-Allied Company from taking possession of the land until the resolution of the ongoing lawsuit brought forth by the farmers, the firm was alleged to have continued clearing the cocoa plantations.

Notably, an interim injunction, issued by Justice Aderemi Adegoroye of the Ondo State High Court, had directed all respondents involved in the case, including SAO Agro-Allied Services Limited, to cease the bulldozing of the cocoa plantations.

Isinleye revealed that when the farmers confronted the operator of the bulldozer and demanded the court ruling, they were advised to reach out to the management of SAO Agro-Allied Services before they could leave the farmlands. This encounter resulted in a struggle between the farmers and the armed men, eventually leading to the confiscation of two firearms – a pump-action shotgun and an air rifle. In a remarkable turn of events, one of the armed individuals was apprehended and subsequently taken to the police station.

In response to the escalating situation, the farmers’ legal representative, Tope Temokun, called upon Governor Rotimi Akeredolu to intervene and hold the responsible parties at SAO Agro-Allied Services Limited accountable. Temokun expressed concern over the company’s aggressive attempts to displace the farmers from their lands, even in defiance of court orders and ongoing litigation.

When contacted for a statement, the State Police Command acknowledged the incident and the arrest of one suspect. Funmi Odunlami, the spokesperson for the State Police Command, confirmed that both parties involved had been summoned by the Area Commander in Ore to provide statements, as an investigation into the matter was still underway.

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