by crossriverwatch admin
The battle to stop the Cross River State government from selling five of its cocoa farms in Etung local government by the host communities took a different turn as the Cross River State High Court, Etung LGA Judicial Division presided over by Justice M.O. Eneji has granted an interlocutory injunction restraining the State government or its agents from encroaching into the disputed land between the government and cocoa farmers in the state.
The Claimants, Hon. Ata Ibi Tangban, AIG Njangbor Egbe Njom (Rtd), Ntufam Benjamin Asu Ndem, Mr. Henry Okorn Okorn, Mr. Eugene Achima Ntui, Mr. Paul Manyo Ojong, Mr. Mbek Agbor Tangban, Patrick Itta Nji, in Suit No. HE/16/2013, ask the Court to restrain the defendants, Attah Ochinke, Cross River State Attorney General, Chairman, Cross River State Privatization Council, Executive Secretary, Cross River State Privatization Council, Mr. Dave Amiye and the Commissioner For Natural Resources, from selling their land which the government acquired in public interest to produce cocoa.
The Court, having considered arguments by counsels said: “Upon this motion for interlocutory injunction coming up before this court on 26th May, 2014.
“And after hearing O.N Agbor Esq. for claimants/applicants move the said motion which was opposed by F. I. Ititim Esa for the Defendants.
“And consequent upon the ruling by the Court that the claimants Company/Applicant’s motion possesses merits and thereby granting the same, it is hereby ordered as follows:
“That the Defendants are hereby restrained either by themselves, agents, servants, privies, assigns or successors from further taking step towards privatizing Abia/Bendeghe Cocoa Estate, Abonita Cocoa Estate, Cross River State Cocoa Project, all lying and situated in Etung LGA pending when the parties have amicably resolved out of Court or in the alternative, pending when the Court shall determine the substantive action.
“The Claimants, their agents, privies, representative of the youth of the landlord communities are hereby restrained from doing any touching on the management control or either re-entering into the cocoa estates in this action pending either an amicable settlement of this action out of Court or determination by the Court of the substantive action.
“The substantive action is further adjourned to 10th July, 2014 for pre-trial”.
Cross River State, Nigeria’s second-largest cocoa grower, had concluded plans to sell five government-owned farms in a bid to boost production of the commodity with private investment.
The Executive Secretary of Cross River State Council on Privatization, Dave Amiye, told the press that bids for the cocoa farms which opened in the beginning of May 2014 for prospective investors ended May 19, 2014 and the government was expecting to sell the five farms before the end of year 2015.
The farms cover 12,129 hectares (29,971 acres) and produced about 50,000 metric tons annually, Amiye said.
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