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Airport in Ebonyi State, Nigeria

Allocation of a large area of land for a cargo airport triggered protests by people facing displacement from their ancestral homes and farmland. Bulldozers demolished homes and destroyed people's farmland and crops, leaving many without food and shelter.


On 10th July 2019 over 200 elderly mothers from the Oriuzor community in the Ezza North Local Government Area held a peaceful demonstration urging the governor of Ebonyi State Government, David Umahi, to change the location of a proposed site for a new airport, concerned that they would be displaced from their ancestral homes. They held up placards saying “Take Egundeze, Leave Our Ancestral Home”, “Governor Umahai Hear Us”, “Our Governor Come to Our Aid” and other slogans. Leaders of the group, Mrs. Ikekwu Christiana, Mrs. Azuonuoko Comfort and Nworie Regina appealed to the state government not to site the airport in the area where they have ancestral homes since they have no other place to go to. They suggested the airport project be moved to Egundeze, a more spacious village with fewer inhabitants.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Airport in Ebonyi State, Nigeria
State or province:Ebonyi
Location of conflict:Oriuzor
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Ports and airport projects
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

On 18th August 2018 Ebonyi State Governor, Chief David Umahi, announced the plan for an airport in the state.[4] On 6th September 2019 it was announced that the Federal Government of Nigeria gave approval to the Ebonyi State Government to construct an international airport in Abakaliki, the state capital. The approval followed visits of the ministry of transportation and its agencies to the proposed project site.[15] The airport project has been approved by the Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).[5] Special Assistant to the Governor on Media/Project Documentation Mr. Francis Nwaze linked the airport to other developments, saying: “Before this airport will be completed, the international market and the shopping mall will be ready and before you know it, it will require that this airport be linked to the international market to that people can import and export easily without challenges.”[4] On 17th September 2019 Ebonyi State Commissioner for Information/Orientation, Barr. Uchena Orji referred to the project as a “Cargo Airport” [6].

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Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:10/07/2019
Relevant government actors:Ebonyi State Government
Ezza North local government area
Ezza South local government area
Federal Aviation Authority of Nigeria (FAAN)
Ebonyi Traditional Rulers Council
Federal Government of Nigeria
Ministry of Aviation
Ebonyi State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:All Progressives Congress (APC) -
Ebonyi State Indigenes in Diaspora (OESID)
Human Rights Defenders of Nigeria (HURIDE) -
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of alternative proposals
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Refusal of compensation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Noise pollution, Soil erosion, Oil spills, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Infectious diseases, Deaths, Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsIllnesses caused by pollutants emitted by aircraft
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Militarization and increased police presence, Land dispossession, Displacement, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Increase in violence and crime
Other socio-economic impactsInter-communal / clan tensions
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Court decision (undecided)
Under negotiation
Proposal and development of alternatives:People protesting against location of the airport site have suggested relocating the project to Egundeze, saying it is a more spacious village with fewer inhabitants [1].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:A large land area was allocated for the Ebonyi airport project in spite of opposition from residents with ancestral homes and farmland within the proposed site. The site was then extended to include an area with 3,000 houses which were marked for demolition. Affected people had not yet been compensated and some were concerned they will not be compensated. Bulldozers have cleared land and destroyed people's crops. An official made intimidating comments threatening that people protesting against location of the airport site would be "fished out and disciplined". Then on 6th February 2020 over 1,000 people were displaced when bulldozers arrived without warning and demolished over 200 buildings, and also destroyed farmland and crops to make way for construction of the airport. Many lost their homes and farming livelihoods and were left without shelter and food. More than two years later, in October 2022, many evicted residents were still homeless, had not been compensated and had lost their land and agricultural livelihoods.
Sources & Materials

[1] Oriuzor Women Protest over Proposed Airport Site, Citizens’ Advocate Newspaper, 15 July 2019
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[2] Ebonyi monarchs disown sons, daughters protesting proposed airport project,, 16 July 2019
[click to view]

[3] Police arrest two for alleged vandalization, disruption airport construction in Ebonyi, DAILY POST, 1 August 2019
[click to view]

[5] Ebonyi Airport: Community protests planned demolition of over 3000 houses, Niger Delta Reporters, 17 September 2019
[click to view]

[6] Ebonyi govt. condemns anti-airport protests, says ‘they’re politically-motivated’, The Nigerian Xpress, 18 September 2019
[click to view]

[7] International Cargo Airport: Commissioner Gives Clarification… Amidst More Protests … SSA Assures Communities, Citizens' Advocate Newspaper, 22 September 2019
[click to view]

[7] Ebonyi international airport: FG gives approval for construction, Legit, 6 September 2019
[click to view]

[8] Group protests construction of Ebonyi International Airport,, 19 September 2019
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[10] Ebonyi international airport: FG gives approval for construction, Legit, 6 September 2019
[click to view]

[11] [ICYMI] Ebonyi airport: Owners of demolished buildings face hard times amid delayed compensation, The Punch newspaper, 22/02/2020
[click to view]

[12] Protests as Ebonyi airport project inflicts pains on host communities,, 01/03/2020
[click to view]

[13] NO FOOD, NO SHELTER: The agony of Ebonyi residents forced to give up their lands for airport project, TheCable, 29/10/2020
[click to view]

[15] Ebonyi international airport: FG gives approval for construction, Legit, 6 September 2019
[click to view]

[16] JUST IN!!! Gov. Umahi Begins Construction Of International Airport (photos), Nairaland Forum, 18/06/2020
[click to view]

[17] New airport: Ebonyi’s economy to get a boost from Dec, Daily Trust, 14/01/2021
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[17] New airport: Ebonyi’s economy to get a boost from Dec, Daily Trust, 14/01/2021
[click to view]

(14] Adejumo Kabir, Ebonyi Residents Homeless, In Despair After Losing Lands To Airport Project, HumAngle, 14/10/2022
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Rose Bridger, Stay Grounded, email: [email protected]
Last update04/03/2021
Conflict ID:4738
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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