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…Ask Lagos State government, House of Assembly Speaker, well-meaning Nigerians to help them recover lost investment

A group of Nigerian Corporate farmers from the Diaspora and Nigerian Farmers, has protested their displacement from their corporate farms which produces crops and animal worth millions of naira on a daily basis.

Speaking during a protest at the Lagos State House of Assembly, Chairman Afero/Eluju Mowo/Mutaku commercial farmers, Wale Oyekoya, said they had a dream of building a better Nigeria and for this, they brought back their life savings and foreign investment to invest in Nigeria.

Oyekoya said: “Those dreams were crushed when on the morning of the 11th day of December 2023, in a brutal display of violence and utter carnage during the late season rains around 11:15 am that day they were violently invaded and brutally attacked by elements of the Nigerian military.

“We are not cutlasses and hoes farmers, we utilise the latest in mechanised machinery and equipment imported from China, US and France and practice farming on a Commercial scale thereby contributing to a large percentage of crop production to the Country and to Lagos State.

“The Nigerian Government in its wisdom instructed the Nigerian Army, the same Army supported by the taxes paid by the very same farmers, to redeploy its resources from protecting the territorial integrity of Nigeria to attack its Nigerian citizens and the soldiers mercilessly taunting the farmers with the fact they cannot do anything because there will be no repercussions and they will never be held accountable for their actions.

“There was no letter of warning, phone call, Memo demand or indeed any correspondence that the farmers have done anything wrong or even that they should vacate the land. Even a declaration of war generally requires some sort of warning nothing of sort took place.

“Instead the Nigerian Military, men whose salaries and livelihoods depend on taxpayers’ money beat the living daylights out of the hand that feeds them. This is really what the Security Vote is now being used for.

“This is why we Nigerians pay our taxes. So that we can be terrorised, tortured and mocked by the very people whose livelihoods we are sponsoring.

“The government is always asking for foreign investors, but who wants to invest in a country where one day you are carrying out your farming activities to prepare for the Christmas and New Year festive sales, with Billions of Naira worth of your life savings, the next day you are running for your life and dodging bullets as if you are in apocalypse IV!

“We sold off our successful companies, investments and houses from all over the world to invest in this our country Nigeria, We used the money to finance, fencing, designing farmland, landscaping, commercial fish ponds, piggeries, poultries, rabbitries, cattle ranches, hydroponic and greenhouse farms of different foods and cash crops for exports and local consumptions, snail pens, general abattoirs, etc. and invested sophisticated mechanised agricultural machines, preservative and processing electronic equipment, electricity generating plants, farmhouses, irrigation machinery, only to have it all callously destroyed not by brigands, bandits or Boko Haram but by the same Nigerian government that claims to be seeking foreign investments, claims to be trying to alleviate the food crisis when that could not be further from the truth.”

Oyekoya said they got the land legitimately from Lagos State Government. As a law abiding citizens, we reported the military invasion to the govrnment in December and on January to the the governor and Speaker of the House and nothing has been done and we are loosing investment money daily as the military men will not allow us to enter into our farms and their workers and the military men continue looting our properties and crops on a daily basis. He noted that they have been on the land allocated to them by Lagos State undisturbed for the past ten years peacefully and commercially farming their crops and raising their animal till the military invasion in December 2023.

“We had no idea when we were allocated parcels of land by a Lagos State Government that the land belonged to the military government and who waited patiently for us to set up and operate for over 10 years before sending various soldiers to take up combat positions all over the farmland and alleging the land belongs to the Nigerian Military.

“They started firing bullets at the farm workers who were running for cover and anyone they got hold of they beat up indiscriminately women, small children, and teenagers, some of our customers were flogged with horsewhips and relieved of their personal belongings.

“They went on to destroy crops, plants and hundreds of millions of nairas worth of imported farming equipment, stealing livestock, breaking down the walls erected for protective covers of the farms effectively decimating and disbanding the whole business enterprise of farmers on over 300 acres of land.

“To give you an idea of the scale of destruction the Vatican which is a whole country with embassies all over the world rests on 200 Acres of Land.

“Anyone can go there now and they will find the Nigerian army there on the Afero Farmers farmland to date because this was a government-backed initiative and this was further corroborated by the Senior army officer that led the invasion Brigadier General Ememe from 81 division, who categorically confirmed it.

“We, like you, used to believe that there was once a country called Nigeria, one in which the Nigerian army was not above the law. Today it has been emphatically been made clear to us that is not the case.

“There was no need for the Federal Government to take the path of violence and intimidation. They did it because they can and they could. We were not aware that the inflationary food prices were part of the government policy and agenda.

“They should simply have told us that they want to keep food prices high, they do not want us to invest our hard-earned money and expertise in Lagos State and we would happily have gone to another country where our investment would be appreciated.

“We, the Afero farmers had previously relied on the assurances of the Lagos State Government to grant it Allocation documents, survey plan, and Certificate of Occupancy and put it in exclusive possession and ownership of the State’s owned land with the further implied assurance that it will enjoy peaceful holding and use of the said land, we agreed to the aforesaid new location as part of the expected compensation although very far off from its displaced Afero community.

“We have lost billions in investments and many of us are facing financial crisis as we had to borrow money when our original investment was taken over by Lagos State ostensibly for public good but we later discovered it was parcelled up and used as housing estates.

“In this circumstance, we no longer see Lagos State or Nigeria as a safe investment destination but more as the Wild Wild West Africa that they have shown themselves to be. We want ALL our money back and we want our land back and we want Justice.

“This has been a learning experience the wealth of which we will ensure that all our brothers and sisters in the diaspora are emphatically made aware of. Nigeria is a country that is hostile to foreign investment and no foreigner should risk investing here as they could lose not only their investment but also their lives.

“We are tax-paying citizens with voters cards and to our shame and abject disappointment we voted for this government, and for this we apologise to our Nigerian Brothers and Sisters both in this country and in the diaspora. We were sold a dream and like you we bought it.

“You could be next. What is there to stop it from happening to you? You too could be sitting in your house or your farm and then the Nigerian Army will invade, beat up your wife, your workers, laugh in your face whilst destroying your property. They will collect taxes from you from your hard-earned money claiming it is for for security vote but instead it will be used to grab your property and terrorise you.

“We therefore ask members of the general public, and other Nigerian officials who have a conscience to have pity on us and assist us to get our money and land back. We have learned a hard lesson from this Nigerian Government and we shall never forget it,” he said.

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