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May 29, 2024

1,415 Cocoa Farmers in Delta Given Eviction Notice Win in Court 

The 1,415 cocoa farmers recently asked to vacate their lands by Governor Bassey Otu of Cross River State have defeated the government at the high court sitting in Effraya, Etung Local Government Area.

AgroNigeria gathered that the court passed an interim injunction restraining the State government from evicting them.

To this end, the immediate past administration led by Prof Ben Ayade had allotted the hectares to the farmers.

It should be recalled that the state government’s cocoa allocation committee, led by its chairman Mr. Ebori Nku, had declared their occupancy as illegal notwithstanding the fact that the allottees met all the requirements.

In light of this, Mr. Charles Mgbe and other allottees had sued the State government over their threat to evict them in suit no. HE/16/2024.

Counsel to the farmers, Ntufam Mba Ukweni Esq, SAN, approached the court seeking redress on behalf of the farmers.

The presiding judge, Justice Amajama Eneji, passed the injunction restraining the state government, its agents or cohorts from intimidating the farmers.

In his words: “Upon this motion exparte brought before this honourable court in its competent jurisdiction, and upon hearing, Ntufam Mba Ukweni, Esq.SAN praying the court for orders.

“After careful perusal of the motion paper, exhibits and written address, it is hereby ordered that the motion be granted as prayed.

“Accordingly an order of interim injunction is hereby granted restraining defendants /respondents, their agents, servants, cohort assigns, and collaborators and their privies in whatever guise from harassing and threatening, intimidating, evicting or attempting to evict.”

The court however adjourned to April 29, 2024, for the hearing of the motion on notice.

While speaking with journalists shortly after the injunction was passed, counsel for the claimants insisted that justice must prevail.

According to him, the government will be served a notice to appear in court.

He insisted that, “Those cocoa farms were duly allocated to them, paid for and the government has made use of the money.

“Government has not refunded their money or relocated them to another place, and they said because it is a new government. There is no such thing known to our law or government policies.

“Government is a continuum. You cannot collect money from people, and you enter into a contract with them and you say because a new government has come, the contract is invalidated.

“It’s not done that way, So the order granted by the court restrains the government from evicting them from the estate, pending when they will come and make their own representation.

“If they fail to appear before the court we will have our claims.”

There have been issues regarding allocation and ownership of cocoa farms in Etung after the inauguration of a new cocoa allocation committee by Governor Otu.

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