Story, Louvier Kindo Tombe
The national oil palm company (Socapalm) is in a process to renew it’s plantation situation in Edea 1, Sanaga Maritime division of the Littoral region. The replanting campaign launched some months back has been going on hitch free until the company extended the exercise to areas considered by the locals as part of their homes.
“We are not against the replanting campaign of Socapalm, what we demand is for them to step out of our individual lands,” says LINDOUME Jehus, notable of Apouh village.
Socapalm is accused of extending the replanting campaign into the interior parts of the village occupying land that never belonged to them in the first place.
Mr LINDOUME Jehus told News Upfront that Socapalm had in the past occupied the said land illegally, a thing they don’t want to happen again.
“We are now ready to resist and fight for the retrocession of our land,” LINDOUME said.
On Wednesday April 12, 2023, the population of Apouh village in Edea 1 sub division left their usual hustle and bustle and staged a public demonstration against the activities of Socapalm in their village. Carrying placards with messages addressed to the management of Socapalm, the demonstrators stormed the land in question preventing the replanting campaign.
The chief of Apouh village, His Majesty DITOPE LINDOUME, who was at the head of the demonstration received a convocation from officers of the Edea gendarmerie brigade. Upon arriving the station, he was immediately transferred to the Edea central prison.
“My father spent the night in prison for what I can’t really explain here,” a prince from Apouh told News Upfront.
“He was only fighting for our rights.”
As the protest intensified, report circulated that one of the demonstrators was knocked down by a vehicle belonging to the oil palm company.
A release from the company, dated April 13, 2023 indicated that news about the accident was framed. The company did not totally disclaim the information but revealed that the victim who was rushed to the hospital was sound and safe without any injuries according to medical reports.
Thursday 13 April 2023, as the protest continued, News Upfront gathered that the angry population blocked the entrance into the oil palm company demanding the immediate release of their chief.
The population of Apouh village in Edea 1 sub division, have lived with grudges for a very long time. When a good portion of the oil palm plantation was destroyed pending renewal, they saw a perfect opportunity to request for their land occupied illegally to be returned to them.
All attempts to regain the land met with stiff resistance from Socapalm which decided to carry on with the replanting campaign.
One month ago, the population is reported to have blocked the exercise initiated by Socapalm. A crisis meeting was convened by the Divisional Officer for Edea 1.
“The DO of Edea 1 had asked Socapalm to stop the replanting campaign to no avail,” says LINDOUME Jehu.
To LINDOUME, “a commission involving officials from the ministry of state property, survey and land tenure tried to intervene to no avail”.
“If our administration is against us, it becomes difficult for us,” LINDOUME Jehus recounted to News Upfront.
He backed his point saying that administrative and security officials are working in favour of the oil palm company.
The present demonstrations broke out at a time when the two parties were planning a field visit to evaluate and examine the controversial land space.
“The field visit was planned for 13 March 2023,” LINDOUME Jehus said.
The people of Apouh village who have welcomed Socapalm for years are ready to dialogue for peace to reign.
“There is enough land available that Socapalm can use, but that should be done through dialogue,” the notable of Apouh village LINDOUME Jehus said.