Cross River govt. asks attackers of soldier, plantation workers to surrender

Mr Ani Esin, the State Security Adviser, Southern Senatorial District to Gov. Ben Ayade, said this on Sunday in Calabar during a stakeholders’ meeting with Wilmar’s host communities.

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The Cross River Government has given a 24-hour ultimatum to attackers who allegedly wounded a soldier and workers at Wilmar oil palm plantation to surrender themselves to security agencies.

Mr Ani Esin, the State Security Adviser, Southern Senatorial District to Gov. Ben Ayade, said this on Sunday in Calabar during a stakeholders’ meeting with Wilmar’s host communities.

The meeting was also attended by representatives of the International Association of Plantation Farm Labourers (IAPFL), Nigeria Labour Congress, security agencies and other stakeholders.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the oil palm plantation is hosted by Akamkpa and Biase Local Government Areas in the state.

Esin advised the attackers to give themselves up to his office or any security posts in the state or be fished out by force.

He said that suspected members of IAPFL in Wilmar plantation allegedly attacked Wilmar’s workers and security men and also destroyed the company’s assets over a labour-related disagreement with the management of the company.

Esin, who restated the commitment of government to the protection of workers and assets of the company, demanded that the Head of Department of IAPFL, Mr Ayebi Festus, should produce IAPFL executive in Willmar.

According to him, failure to produce the attackers, the law enforcement agencies would be asked to fish out both the executive and the attackers for the law to take its course.

“I have always said that the government of Cross River has zero tolerance for criminalities and insecurity.

“Service men who stepped in to restore order became victims. We shall ensure that those miscreants are fished out and punished to serve as deterrent to others.

“Why take the laws into your own hands as if we are in a lawless society? The administration of Ayade will not accept such level of rascality on a lawful company.

“When such development occurs, if it is not handled on time, it could snowball into something very serious,” he said.

Wilmar’s representative in the meeting, Mr Asen Ako, said the company had shut down over fears of lost of lives and assets.

During the meeting, the NLC as well as Chiefs and leaders of Mbarakom community in Akamkpa Local Government had distanced themselves from the activities of the association members.

Also speaking, Mr Daniel Asuquo, member representing Akamkpa/Biase Federal Constituency, said the association itself is not recognized by law.

Asuquo wondered why such group should have the boldness to foment the type of trouble it was accused of.

He called for a peaceful co-existence between the company and the host communities, adding that it was only peace that will promote the needed development and foster growth in the area.