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Oba airport, land conflict and sand mining, Nigeria

Disputes over ownership of land allocated for the abandoned Oba airport project led to protests and violence. Illegal and dangerous mining of sand and laterite at the site has caused gully erosion that places homes and roads at risk of being washed away.


In April 2017 an estimated 10 people were injured in a clash over ownership of a large expanse of land in Oba. They were hospitalised and about five people were arrested. The disputed land, in the Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State had been allocated for an airport by the now-defunct Government of the Eastern Region and acquired from various owners in 1963. 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Oba airport, land conflict and sand mining, Nigeria
State or province:Anambra state
Location of conflict:Oba
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Ports and airport projects
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Sand, gravel
laterite, clay
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Land for an airport in Oba was allocated by the now defunct Government of the Eastern Region and acquired from various owners in 1963. The land now falls under the jurisdiction of Anambra State, which was formed in 1976. The airport project was abandoned when the administration relocated the project to Aguleri in Anambra East Local Government Area [1].

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Project area:530 hectares
Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:14/04/2017
Company names or state enterprises:Oyitraco (also referred to as Oyotraco) from Nigeria - Firm mining sand and laterite at the abandoned Oba Airport site
Relevant government actors:Idemili South Local Government Area
Anambra State
Ministry of Environment
Ministry of Lands
Ojoto Police Division
Federal Government of Nigeria
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Industrial workers
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Forms of mobilization:Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Potential: Oil spills, Air pollution, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Noise pollution, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Other Environmental impacts, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Potential: Accidents, Deaths, Occupational disease and accidents
Other Health impactsCommunities whose land was taken for Oba airport and the Emordi Shoe Association allocated land at the site both said that people had died while awaiting compensation.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Militarization and increased police presence, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Increase in violence and crime, Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..)
Project StatusUnknown
Conflict outcome / response:Migration/displacement
Proposal and development of alternatives:Some members of the Oba community have argued that the government should transfer the abandoned airport site back to its former owners or utilise it for a purpose serving the public interest.[2] Some youths demanded an explanation from the government of why houses were being built on the land instead of using it for industry [4]. In April 2018 over 500 members of Emordi Shoe Association protested demanding allocation of pieces of land at the Oba airport site or refunds for payments they said they had made for the land [6].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Many residents and community representatives said that people who donated land for Oba airport did not receive compensation. Members and representatives of Emordi Shoe Association said they received neither the land they were allocated nor a refund of payments they made for the land. Mining of sand and laterite at the abandoned airport site is unauthorised and dangerous and efforts to investigate and halt it were not successful.
Sources & Materials

[1] 10 injured, 5 arrested as Oba Airport land dispute deepens, Nwabueze Okonkwo, Vanguard, 14/04/2017
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[2] Trucks of armed security watch Oba Airport land as Anambra community petitions governor Obiano over illegal sale of land, Odogwu Media Communication Limited, 04/2017
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[3] Government Compensation on Oba Airport site tears community apart, Odogwu Media Communication Limited, 04/2017
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[4] Tension in Anambra as Oba youths protest non payment of compensation on old Oba Airport land, Odogwu Media Communication Limited, 07/2017
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[5] Anambra: Youths, developer at loggerheads over defunct Oba Airport land, Jeff Amechi Agbodo, The Sun Nigeria, 02/08/2017
[click to view]

[6] 500 Onitsha Shoe Dealers Protest Non-Refund Of Money, Allocation Of Land, Gloria Anaeze, Independent Nigeria, 26/04/2017
[click to view]

[7] Anambra community at erosion’s mercy, Jeff Amechi Agbodo, The Sun Nigeria, 29/03/2017
[click to view]

[8] Anambra govt bans sand excavation over negative effect on community, Chimaobi Mwaiwu, Vanguard, 30/12/2019
[click to view]

[9] Assembly urges Government to stop unauthorised excavations in Anambra, Chizoba Okeke/Anastasia Agunwa, Anambra State, 03/06/2020
[click to view]

[10] Erosion: Save us from illegal sand miners – Anambra Community begs Minister, lawmakers, Awesome Ekene, The Daily Vendor, 04/09/2020
[click to view]

[11] Anambra govt. denies selling land meant for Oba airport, Vanguard Media Limited, 30/03/2017
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Rose Bridger, Stay Grounded mapping, email: [email protected]
Last update13/09/2021
Conflict ID:5625
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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