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Obudu International Passenger and Cargo Airport, Nigeria

Since 2019 a series of protests by residents in Obudu local government area, resisting displacement for an airport and demanding payment of compensation, have been violently repressed. Villagers have been shot, beaten and detained and two people have died


On 4th May 2019 it was reported that the governor of Cross River State, Ben Ayade, had written to the clan heads of three villages in the Obudu local government area - Atikpe, Ikwomikwu and Okambi - appealing for their cooperation with the commencement and speedy completion of a new airport. The letter stated that the state government wanted to acquire 9 square kilometres of land from the three communities for the project, to be known as Obudu International Passenger and Cargo Airport (OIA) and claimed that land acquisition and a compensation process, in line with the Nigerian Land Use Act (2004), would commence immediately along with site preparation works such as land clearing developing an access road. CrossRiverWatch reported that most of the affected villagers they talked with did not share the governor’s view of the urgency of a new airport but were afraid of speaking publicly for fear of reprisals. One of the village chiefs told the reporter that the targeted three villages, which are among the smallest in Obudu, may disappear if such a large land area was taken for the airport, also saying, with a trembling voice “We are not even given the space to discuss or negotiate to raise our concerns. We are just sent letters and orders and asked to obey. They have started harassing and arresting people already for attempting to resist. We don’t know what is coming. That is our greatest fear.”[1]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Obudu International Passenger and Cargo Airport, Nigeria
State or province:Cross River State
Location of conflict:Obudu
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 4th May 2019 it was reported that a letter had been sent by Cross River State State Government to the clan heads of three Obudu villages – Atiekpe, Ikwomikwu and Okambi – where land is being acquired for a new airport The letter included the following statements:

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Project area:1,500
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:04/05/2019
Relevant government actors:Cross River State Government
Obudu local government
Okambi Development Association (ODA)
Nigeria Police Force
Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET)
Nigerian Army
Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Cross River Coalition Against Land Grabbing
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Land occupation
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: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Air pollution, Global warming, Noise pollution, Soil erosion, Oil spills, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Deaths
Potential: Malnutrition, Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsIllnesses caused by pollutants emitted by aircraft
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Violent targeting of activists
Proposal and development of alternatives:Cross River Coalition Against Land Grabbing issued a press release calling on Governor Ben Ayade to complete unfinished projects instead of building a new airport: roads, renovation of the Obudu Ranch resort and renovation of nearby Bebi Airstrip to make it functional and efficient.[12]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Land clearance including destruction of crops and farmland to make way for construction Obudu International Passenger and Cargo Airport began without consulting affected communities. Normal procedures for project planning and land acquisition have not been adhered to. There are reports that people opposing loss of residential and farm land for the airport are being intimidated and arrested. On 23rd May 2019 it was reported that a palm plantation owner had died in hospital after participating in protests and confronting a bulldozer that was nearing his land, and another man had been critically injured and was in hospital after his farm was demolished. On 2nd March 2020 it was reported that one person had been killed and several injured in a clash over compensation. On 5th January 2021 it was reported that three Okambi residents, participants in a peaceful protest against the airport, had been shot by a combined team of police officers and civilian gunmen.
Sources & Materials

[1] Ayade To Commence Aquisition Of Land For Obudu Airport, Appeals For Cooperation From Affected Communities, CrossRiverWatch, 4 May 2019
[click to view]

[2] Unlawful Entry, Destruction Of Farm Crops And Encroachment Of Rural Agricultural Land Under The Ownership And Possession Of The People Of Okambi, Obudu, Letter to Senator B.B. Ayade, Governor, Cross River State, Vox Justicia Associates, 16 May 2019
[click to view]

[3] Obudu Cargo Airport: Crisis Brews As Communities, Government Face Off, CrossRiverWatch, 18 May 2019
[click to view]

[5] Who Needs A Third Airport In Cross River State?, CrossRiverWatch, 18 May 2019
[click to view]

[6] Obudu International Airport Claims First Casualty; APC, AAC, NBA React, CrossRiverWatch, 23 May 2019
[click to view]

[7] Obudu Cargo Airport: NIMET Writes Ayade, As Document Raises Question On New Ogoja Airport, CrossRiverWatch, 25 May 2019
[click to view]

[9] Obudu Cargo Airport: Soldiers Invade Ukambi Community, Arrest Two As Women Protest (Video), CrossRiverWatch, 28 May 2019
[click to view]

[10] Obudu Cargo Airport: More Soldiers Arrive Ukambi, CrossRiverWatch, 29 May 2019
[click to view]

[11] Nigerians want police's SARS force scrapped, Al Jazeera, 15 December 2017
[click to view]

[12] Proposed Obudu Airport: Ayade’s kinsmen blows hot, call him land grabber, Paradise News, 4 June 2019
[click to view]

[click to view]

[14] One dead, others injured in clash over Cross River N500m compensation, TheGuardian, 02/03/2020
[click to view]

[15] Youths Protest, Reject Obudu International Passenger And Cargo Airport, Claims Foul Play, Cross River Watch, 02/01/2021
[click to view]

[16] UPDATED: Police Shoot, Brutalize Four Over Controversial Obudu Airport, Cross River Watch, 05/01/2021
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[4] Women Protest Seizure Of Land To Build Obudu International Passenger And Cargo Airport, SaharaTV, 18 May 2019
[click to view]

[8] Obudu Cargo Airport: Teenager Sends Governor Ayade Video Message, CrossRiverWatchTV, 26 May 2019
[click to view]

[17] Obudu Cargo Airport: Thousands To Become Displaced Without Compensation, CrossRiverWatchTV, 28/12/2020
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Rose Bridger, Stay Grounded, email: [email protected]
Last update06/07/2019
Conflict ID:4267
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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