The Managing Director of Okomu Oil Palm Company, Edo State, Dr Graham Hefer, esday lamented gunmen’s attacks on the company’s plantation.
He challenged the company’s host communities to volunteer information on undesirable elements among them.
Hefer made the call at an interactive session with representatives of the communities at Okomu, near Iguobazuwa in Ovia South West Government Area of Edo.
He said the essence of the interaction was to build a better and more cordial relationship between the 29 host communities and the company.
He spoke in the aftermath of recent attacks by gunmen on the company’s plantation, which led to the death of its worker, destruction of hectares of rubber plantation and equipment.
Hefer said the company spent more than N20 million on whistle blowing in 2021 and urged the communities to stand up for themselves against hoodlums terrorising them and the company.
He said the people could still take advantage of the policy to volunteer information on the identities of the gunmen and help the company to get back to business for guaranteed provision of social amenities.
“Are you just going to look and allow hoodlums to overrun your communities?
“Are you going to just watch and let the goose (Okomu Company) that lays the golden egg to be destroyed by hoodlums?
“Are you going to continue to keep quiet and allow thieves carry our `banga’ and logs through your communities and not say anything?
“Are you going to just watch and allow these hoodlums to continue to kill our staff and destroy our equipment while they still live among you,’’? a disconsolate Hefer queried.
“My appeal is for the community leaders and the subjects to look inward and fish out the bad elements among them, otherwise, we may be forced to shut down the company,’’ he said.
“How can we operate when our workers are now afraid to go to the plantation for fear of attacks,’’? Hefer also asked.
Chief Augustine Yankee, who spoke on behalf of the communities, appreciated the company’s gesture, especially in the area of delivery on Corporate Social Responsibility to the communities.
Yankee, who condemned attacks on the company, expressed the host communities’ preparedness to constitute vigilance groups to repel the gunmen.