The Inspector General of Police, (IG) and the Governor of Ekiti State, Abiodun Oyebanji haven been asked to launch investigations into large scale land grabbing in Itapaji-Ekiti located in Ajoni Local Government area of Ekiti State.
In a petition, the Centre for Democracy and Socio-Economic Rights, CEDSER said a group of land grabbers invaded Itapaji, one of the most fertile soil in the Northern fringe of Ekiti where they are currently bulldozing several acres of land without the free, prior and informed consent of the owners of the land and the traditional institution in the community.
The group also petitioned the State Governor, Abiodun Oyebani calling on him to investigate the land grabbers adding that the invasion of ancestral land of the community raises fundamental questions about the future of the environment and livelihood of some 10,000 people who have lived on their ancient land for close to 1000 years.
The rights group said investigations have revealed that the State Governor Oyebanji is not aware of the destructive mission of the invaders.
The group said the community has confidence that the State Governor when briefed will wade in and stop the wilful destruction on going at Itapaji-Ekiti.
The group said petitions have also been written to prominent lawyer, Mr Femi Falana and other regional human rights bodies for a concerted effort to stop the environmental carnage. CEDSER said the invaders appeared to have come with armed men whose status is unknown.
The group said reports received from community leaders in the town indicated that the encroachment on the ancestral land of Itapaji people began two years ago but was halted partly due to communal resistance but that the invaders came again this year to continue their mission of extermination of the indigenous people.
The rights group said the invaders came with several heavy duty equipment which has led to the loss of valuable trees, vast farmland, destruction of sacred spiritual sites and special species of plants and animals have been destroyed.
‘The community woke up to the noise of bulldozers and caterpillars. The invaders had no discussion with anyone.
The agricultural crops, spiritual worship places of the indigenous communities, their plants and lurch green forest, their health-giving plants were mauled down in few hours by an unknown group of land grabbers who claim to be acting on orders from above. The invaders target over 100 hectares of land which is almost half of the entire landmass of the community’ the group said.
The petition signed by foremost rights activists, Mr Popoola Ajayi and Mallam Idris Shettima on behalf of the community said the cost of the destruction on the land as at Wednesday this week runs into over 100 millions of naira not to talk of the priceless sacred and spiritual temples that the invaders have callously and irresponsibly destroyed.
The group said the community youths and elders are prepared to lay down their lives than to allow their land and ancestry to be wiped out by a profiteering, inhuman, cruel and greedy racket urging the Inspector General of Police, (IG), the State Governor, Oyebanji and other human right groups to urgently intervene to stop an epic resistance that could lead to the loss of human lives.