Benedict Ayade

Forty-three farmers in Boki local government area of Cross River State have dragged the state government to court over the alleged arbitrary revocation of their plots in the Boki Oil Palm Estate, which they claimed to have made payments for.

In a case at the High Court of Cross River State with suit number HC/535/2018 instituted by the farmers against the Government of the State, the Attorney General and the Special Adviser on Infrastructure, they sought the refunds of various amounts of money amounting to N29 million that they contributed for plots of land of Boki Palm Estates.

In the Writ of Summons, the claimants John Erosion, Ovia Goddy Otu and Deborah Nku on behalf of 40 others said the defendants, even after payment, were unable to facilitate them taking possession of the allotted plots of land and unilaterally revoked the allocation without any refunds.

Speaking though their lawyers, Okimasi Ojong and Co, they claimed they have suffered damages and were claiming from the defendants, jointly and severally, the sum of N100 million naira being the approximate revenue they would have made from the proceeds of sale of the oil palm, if they had been allocated the estate since they made payment in 2017.

Alternatively, they sought a refund of the N29 million, being payment for the failed contract, 10 per cent interest of the total sum calculated since 2017 until the judgment sum is fully liquidated, N1million as cost of prosecuting the suit and N10 million as general damages.

In the Statement of Claims, the farmers said the Special Adviser on Infrastructure, advertised the government policy to the entire Boki people, as well as calls for application for those interested in the palm oil business.

They said consequent upon the advertisement, farmers numbering over 100 put in their respective applications through the office of the Special Adviser on Infrastructure.

Thereafter, they said the third defendant collated the various applications and shortlisted the claimants allocation and clearance letters to enable them make payments.

The aggrieved farmers said by the allocation letters, the Claimants were directed to make payment into a designated state government account in a bank.

The Claimants said they made payments to the tune of N29 million for the respective plots allocated to them and since the payments were made in July, 2017, they have not had access to the plots and therefore yielding no income for their investments.

They said they were frustrated when the government went ahead to revoke their respective allocations without consulting any of them.

According to them, they had approached the Special Adviser on Infrastructure, who said the government took the decision because of the crisis surrounding the plots allocation and promised to make refunds.

“The Claimants have collectively and severally made fruitless efforts to get the refund of their money. The Claimants are down, frustrated because most of them collected loans to pay for the failed scheme and their creditors are presently asking them for the refund of their monies,” the farmers lamented.

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