Posted by Nelson Dafe, Benin City | 12 November 2015 | 2,801 times
The oft-fractious relationship between Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole and the family of his predecessor Lucky Igbinedion reached a new level yesterday, with the governor accusing the Igbinedions of exploiting Edo people during the former’s tenure as governor.
Addressing members of civil society organisations and students of Ambrose Alli University (AAU) who mobilised to Government House to pay him a solidarity visit, Oshiomhole berated the Igbinedion family for allegedly using its Independent Television and Radio (ITV) to wage a war against his government because he recovered over 200,000 hectares of land illegally gifted to Chief Gabriel Igbinedion by his son, Lucky, when the latter was the governor.
In a stomping speech, Oshiomhole said he was not deterred by the campaign of calumny being waged against him and pledged to work for the interest of Edo tax payers no matter the cost.
His words: “In the interest of Edo people, even the one yet unborn, I want to be remembered after my stewardship not only for roads, hospitals, and schools. More importantly, I want to be
remembered as the man who brought an end to exemption.
“Let me share with you some of the things that are going on and why they are angry. I did not
promise to make everybody happy. What I promised was to make the majority happy. I will
publish records in black and white and Edo people will be shocked how they have been raped by the gang masters of original fraudster.
“You are here looking for a small parcel of land and Lucky Igbinedion, former governor here, gave out to his father, Gabriel Igbinedion, over 200,000 acres of government land (free). They took that land on the premise they will use it for mechanised farming. That is what is in the books. But what is on ground is that Igbinedion takes this land and gives this land to cocoa farmers, some of them from Edo, some from Yoruba land.
“These cocoa farmers will farm and sweat to grow their cocoa on government land, Igbinedion
will sit in his house on which he is not paying ground rent, and is collecting royalties. Is Igbinedion the Oba of Benin? The great Oba of the great Benin Kingdom never subjected his people to that level of exploitation. Can you accept that one chief collects royalties as if he is a traditional ruler?
“Based on the powers vested in me as the elected governor of Edo State, I have used those privileges to revoke the over 200,000 hectares of land that Igbinedion the son gave to Igbinedion the father. I have revoked and returned it to government.
“Let me tell you what I have done. I told those cocoa farmers, you are Nigerians, you do not
need resident permit to live in any part of Nigeria as a Nigerian citizen.
“Why will a Nigerian be asked to pay rent on a farmland to a chief who collects royalties? I
directed, ‘You go and do your farming and whatever you make from it, you pay tax, personal
income tax to Edo State Government to ensure that Edo people have the resources to develop Edo State. And I said never again should you pay money to a chief.
“That is the battle-line that Igbinedion has been fighting. He tells me he is above the law and I tell him, if you fault the law, you will go to prison. He must obey the law, laws made by Edo State Government and laws made by the Federal Government. If he does not want to obey those laws, he will have to relocate.”
•Photo shows Governor Oshiomhole.
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