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Three killed in fresh Edo cult attack

Group seeks probe of N70b loan, Okomu Oil donates to communities

There is palpable tension in Edo State following the killing of three cultists by a rival group on Tuesday night in parts of Benin City

It was gathered that the incidents took place in Ogida and Uwelu axis of the ancient city.

The first two persons were reportedly murdered around Ogida Market and Igbinaduwa junction, while the third was eliminated along Uwelu Road by former Texaco filling station.

It was further learnt that one of the victims, a commercial bus driver, was trailed to, and killed at the market, shortly before the commencement of the dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed by the Governor Godwin Obaseki administration to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus in the state.

The corpses were said to have been evacuated by the police.

Earlier in the month, two persons were gunned down in two separate locations along Benin Technical College (BTC) Road and Universal junction along Medical Stores Road in a renewed cult clash in the same city.

Contacted, the state police public relations officer, DSP Chidi Nwanbuzor, said he was in a meeting and promised to return the call. He, however, did not fulfil the pledge as at the time of filing this report.

Besides, the Safe Edo Movement (SEM) yesterday urged the Minister of Finance and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to investigate the deployment of the N70 billion agriculture loan given to the state government by the apex bank from 2017 to date.

In a statement by its president, Chris Oshokha Ethuakhor, the group claimed that there was nothing on ground to justify the huge sum.

It claimed: “In 2017, the Central Bank of Nigeria gave N2 billion loan to Edo State for the production of maize, under the Agripreneur programme. The last known and traceable activity with this fund is that the Edo State government transferred it to SARO Agro Sciences Limited to cultivate and manage the 5,000-hectare maize farm at SOBE on behalf of the state government.

“After this known activity, the whole initiative has disappeared into thin air, and to this date, nothing has been heard of it.

“We implore the CBN to spearhead a thorough investigation that will inform Nigerians how the fund was spent.”

Meanwhile, Management of Okomu Oil Palm Plc has donated food items to members of 21 communities comprising its host communities as part of its corporate social responsibility to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 lockdown in the state.

Managing Director of the company, Dr. Graham Hefer, made the donations comprising 10 bags each of 50kg rice and beans and 10 cartons of palm oil sachets to the communities in Ovia South West, Uhunmwode and Ovia North-East council areas.

He urged multinationals firms operating in the country to consider the interest of humanity above business profit margin during this trying period of the ravaging COVID-19 globally.

Hefer, who was represented by Human Resources manager, Ikponmwosa Osunbor said, “Notwithstanding the fact that the global economy has nosedived and companies like us and others are finding it difficult to sell our products, this is not the time to put profits before people. Consequently upon the above the Okomu board management, once again would like to show our solidarity and support to our neighbours.” he said.

Responding on behalf of the communities, the Iyase of Udo Dukedom, HRH Patrick Ekhorutomwen Igbinidu, commended Okomu Oil for the gesture, saying it would ameliorate the sufferings of the people especially the aged and children.

On his part, Chairman of Ijaw Community in Ofunama, Ovia South-West Council Area, Clement Seje, who received the items on behalf of the beneficiaries, expressed appreciation to the company for the gesture, saying, “This is the first relief materials we have received from government or organisation since the lockdown.”

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