From Aniekan Aniekan, Calabar

About 1,415 cocoa farmers in Cross River State, who were facing eviction by the state government, have successfully obtained an injunction against the government.

The High Court of Cross River State, located in Effraya, Etung local government area, issued an interim injunction that restrains the state government from evicting the cocoa farmers. The injunction was granted during proceedings presided over by Justice Amajama Eneji in a suit marked HE/16/2024.

Mr Charles Mgbe, on behalf of the affected cocoa farmers, approached the court seeking redress. Their action was prompted by the decision of the government’s cocoa allocation committee, which deemed their occupancy of cocoa estates as illegal, despite the farmers meeting all requirements and making payments into the Court-ordered smartgov account.

In granting the injunction, Justice Amajama stated, “After careful perusal of the motion paper, exhibits, and written address, it is hereby ordered that the motion be granted as prayed.”

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The court order reads, “Accordingly, an order of interim injunction is hereby granted restraining the defendants/respondents, their agents, servants, cohort assigns, and collaborators and their privies in whatever guise from harassing, threatening, intimidating, evicting, or attempting to evict.”

The court has scheduled the hearing of the motion on notice for April 29, 2024, and the counsels to the defendant/respondents, including the Office of the Ministry of Justice/Attorney General, Agriculture Commissioner, and Cocoa Allocation Committee, were absent during the proceedings.

Ntufam Mba Ukweni (SAN), counsel to the cocoa farmers, spoke after the court hearing, stating, “Those cocoa farms were duly allocated to them, paid for, and the government has made use of the money. Government has not refunded their money or relocated them to another place, and they said because it is a new government. There is no such thing known to our law or government policies. Government is a continuum. You cannot collect money from people and enter into a contract with them and then say because a new government has come, the contract is invalidated.”

He further emphasized that the court does not wait for anybody and that the defendants have been properly served, with the legal processes brought to their attention.