Even before its take-off, the proposed Ekiti airport project has allegedly claimed its first casualty.
An oil palm plantation farmer, Tijani Hakeem, reportedly died from shock after his farm was destroyed by bulldozers.
The Nation gathered exclusively in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, yesterday that the government decided to stop the project for now, following the tension generated by the destruction of economic trees on the land.
A meeting was held with traditional rulers, community leaders and families in the five villages affected.
Secretary of Iwajo Family Oso Olorunfemi, who spoke after the meeting, said the Commissioner for Lands and Housing, Taelolu Otitoju, promised to hold an enlarged meeting on the development.
He added that Otitoju, who conveyed the agreement reached to Fayose through a telephone chat, agreed that work on the site would stop for now, pending more meetings with interest groups.
Olorunfemi said aggrieved land owners and families met with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Works, Ademiloye Fasiku, who appealed to them to maintain peace and promised that bulldozers would be withdrawn for now.
He said Fasiku sympathised with them on the economic trees and crops destroyed.
Olorunfemi said: “It is unfortunate that an oil palm plantation owner, Tijani Hakeem, died from shock, following the destruction of his economic trees and crops.
“The lives of these people depend on their plantations and we have told the government repeatedly that the land is not a virgin land.
“The government officials were made to understand that there is nothing they can give us that is meaningful except adequately compensating us.
“We told them we should be allowed to harvest the crops before anything is done on the land and see what has just happened now. If they insist on laying claim to the land, we must be put on notice and be compensated and relocated elsewhere.
“Apart from the economic trees, we have a shrine and sacred trees on the land and our people are threatening to attack government agents with bees and leprosy.
“This battle is not about gun or cutlass and now that it has involved a human life, it is better they stop doing anything on the land for now, until all issues are resolved satisfactorily.”