The Ekuri Court Verdict: My take —Princewill Odidi

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Princewill Odidi|12 December 2016 This verdict requires calmness and not a celebration. Note that Ekuri village is one of the most affected villages on the SuperHighway route. This is an autonomous community at the middle of the rainforest, just as we desire to preserve the rain forest, we should also preserve the human communities within the forest. Don't forget that the local village may not have famous human right lawyers and public commentators to let the world know about their possible extinction, and the relocation of their traditional heritage, gravesides, homelands,and farmlands, but we need to hear their side of the story. The government should negotiate and pay adequate compensation rather than celebrate a victory where the government is petitioner, police, prosecutor and the judge. If the superhighway must pass through this communities, there has to be a negotiation and settlement and not a Court house celebration of defeating a defenseless poorly represented autonomous native populations in ecological preserved forest reserves. The government rather should be ashamed to allow this matter in Court rather than peaceful settlement with local villagers. We have just celebrated a court ruling in Abuja, morally speaking, we should not be celebrating the defeat and humiliation of an indigenous population. Ekuri has little or no government presence, dilapidated schools, hospitals and extreme poverty. Their only asset is their traditional homelands, this too the government want to dislodge them away. Nobody is saying there should be no superhighway, but if we must relocate voiceless communities, let us do it responsibly. It is Ekuri's turn today, tomorrow it may be the turn of your own village. Princewill Odidi
Is an International Development Consultant