Several communities of Orhionmwon in Edo State have appealed to Governor Godwin Obaseki not to implement the planned leasing of Urhonigbe Forest Reserve to a private investor, SARO Oil Palm.
They asked the governor to relocate the said investor to elsewhere as the forest reserve given to the investor serves as their only source of livelihood through subsistence farming.
The protesters, comprising 23 communities that make up Orhionmwon south, made the submissions during a peaceful protest in Benin City yesterday, noting that the Urhonigbe forest reserve was donated by their forefathers while other communities refused to make any land donation as forest reserve.
Addressing journalists at the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), Edo State Council, yesterday, spokesman of the protesting communities, Chief G. O. Osadolor, said: “The Urhonigbe forest reserved as our only means of livelihood, where we do farming to sustain our family and children. Our children, mostly who are graduates and have no job, engage in farming in the forest reserve.
“Many youths from Orhionmwon local government area, who are not interested in criminal activities, engaged in farming in the forest reserve as there is no employment after graduating from school.”
Osadolor, also noted that not all communities in the state have forest reserve, but that their forefathers were magnanimous to have donated their land for as forest reserve which is their only means of livelihood.