BENIN CITY – Two field workers with Okomu Plantation in Ovia South West Local Government Area of Edo State have been shot dead by gunmen who invaded the farm.
The gun wielding youths said to be numbering over 20, also shot and injured nine others including women when they invaded the palm oil plantation about 9 am on Tuesday.
It was gathered that the armed men who tied red ribbon round their heads and arms laid siege to the farm and in a commando manner, rounded up the unsuspecting and defenceless workers as they were about to commence work.
Sources disclosed that some of the workers narrowly escaped on sighting the gunmen who immediately ordered their captives to lie on their faces.
Narrating her ordeal to our crime reporters who went to a hospital where the survivors are receiving medical attention, Mrs. Comfort Bassey, widow with two children, from Cross River State who sustained severe bullet wounds stated that after they were captured, the hoodlums started shooting them one after another.
“As I cover face for ground, I nor come get hope for life,” Mrs. Bassey recalled.
Another victim of the attack, Mr. Joseph Darton, from Benin Republic who was shot twice on his buttocks stated that their assailants were in the plantation to kill and maim. He revealed further that as soon as they demanded to know their boss, they fired him and at close range.
Commenting on the mayhem in Okomu, the Human Resources Comptroller, Okomu Oil Palm Plc, Mr. Osunbor Ikponmwosa said faceless group had been sending anonymous threat letters to Okomu Oil Palm Plc.
He disclosed further that in a bid to remain proactive in protecting lives and property of their workers, the company had severally notified the Police, Army and other security agencies in the state.
He added that though Army and Policemen have been dispatched to the area, they do not take security instructions from authorities of Okomu Oil Palm Plc rather from their superiors in Benin City.
He however, disclosed that several meetings had been arranged between neighbouring communities and management of Okomu Plc but some individuals in the communities have opted to remain antagonistic for reasons best known to them.
The Human Resources Comptroller appealed to Edo State Government, security agencies and other relevant authorities to intervene with a view to finding permanent solution to the problem.
Meanwhile, Edo Police Command has fingered one Lawrence Iyabo of Okomu-Ijaw community as the mastermind of the attack.
The Command’s spokesman, DSP Joseph Edogiawerie disclosed this to our reporter in his office, yesterday.
“Police reports from Iguobazuwa yesterday revealed that a group of armed men led by one Lawrence Iyabo of Okomu-Ijaw community invaded Okomu Company’s plantation and killed two field workers, one Samuel…and wounded several others”, DSP Edogiawerie stated.
He equally confirmed that the company had written several letters as to the security threat in that locality.
He however, assured that security would be beefed up in the area as investigation is ongoing.
Efforts to obtain comment from Mr. Lawrence Iyabo failed.