Wilmar and Land Grab in Cross River State, Nigeria


The Cross River state government in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria has handed over vast hectares of land to Wilmar international in its bid to revive the oil palm industry in the state and to restore its past glory. The State government has so far handed over the Calaro Oil palm estate and the Ibiae oil palm estates. It has also transferred its interests in large tracts of land in Biase Local government area to Wilmar international. The Cross River State government says that it will ensure that Wilmar has access to a minimum of 50,000 ha of land on which to cultivate palm plantation within a five year period.

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Basic Data
NameWilmar and Land Grab in Cross River State, Nigeria
ProvinceCross River
SiteBiase Local Government Area
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific CommoditiesLand
Palm oil
Project Details and Actors
Project Details30,000 hectares of land
Project Area (in hectares)30,000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population10,000 - 20,000
Start Date2011
Company Names or State EnterprisesWilmar International from Singapore
Relevant government actorsCross River State Forestry Commission

Ministry of Agriculture

Ministry of Justice
International and Financial InstitutionsRound Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) from Malaysia
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersEnvironmental Rights Action/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Rainforest Resources and Development Centre
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Specific impacts on women
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseUnder negotiation
Development of AlternativesThe total size of the lands acquired and their location need to be clearly identified. Many different figures were suggested by different persons interviewed.

It is also important for government to work with the communities to ensure the protection of the forests and the resources therein

Civil Society Organisations should support and actively participate in processes that would lead to the carrying out of a proper environmental audit of the entire plantation under consideration.

They should support groups resisting the clearing of forests and the acquisition of the same for use as palm oil plantations.

It is necessary to investigate the water pollution problems affecting nearly 10,000 community members in the Betem axis and see how this problem can be alleviated.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.The communities complained that they were not adequately consulted on the transfer of the land to Wilmar and that they only got to know about the transfer after the state government had concluded all negotiations with Wilmar. They in fact wrote a petition to the state government via their lawyers dated April 5, 2012 where they specifically said that the government had by virtue of the breach of fundamental provisions of the 1963 lease agreement ceased to have any legal rights over the lands that form part of the estates. The communities alleged that the failure of government to pay rents and royalties as agreed over a 24 year period determined the lease contract and that government therefore had no rights in law or any interest to transfer to Wilmar.
Sources and Materials

Environmental Impact Assessment(EIA) Act, Land Use Act


Save Wildlife
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Friends of the Earth
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C’River host community drags foreign investor to court
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GRAUN, Nigeria Villagers Want their Land Back from Wilmar
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Other Documents

Wilmar Palm Oil Nursery
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorMaria Obaseki, Earth Rights International, Nigeria
Last update04/09/2014