Last update:
2017-06-30

Okomu oil palm plantation, Edo State, Nigeria

Expansion of the Okomu plantation causing deforestation and displacing villagers. Acquisition of land (over 13,000 ha) alleged to be illegal.


Description:

The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), representatives of the Owan and Okomu communities and a host of civil society groups have urged in June 2017 the Dr. Godwin Obaseki administration in Edo State to uphold a revocation Order on 13,750 hectares of land expropriated by Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc (a Belgian company) in the rich forest reserves. Under former Governor Adams Oshiomhole, the sale of the lands in contention was reversed. They cover an estimated 13,750 hectares spread through Okomu forests reserve to Owan forest reserve. Till date, Okomu Oil Company Plc has disregarded the Edo State Government order. The company is alleged to have militarised the communities and embarked on continuous bulldozing of the forests for expansion of large scale palm oil plantation. “In the process, over 60,000 rural farmers in the farming communities have been displaced and a host of communities impacted. Some of the communities are Okomu Village, Agbede, Ik camp, Makilolo, Lemo, Oweike, Avbiosi, Sobe, Uhiere, Owan, Ugbebezi, Oke-Ora, Ekpan, Oke, Atorunu, Ogbetu, Umokpe, Orhua, Ozalla, Sabogida Ora, Odiguete, Agudezi, Uhunmora, Uzeba and Odighi,” the ERA/FoEN disclosed in a statement made available on June 21, 2017. There have been street marches and other forms of protest in June 2017 against this usurpation of land for oil palm plantations.(4) (5).

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Okomu oil palm plantation, Edo State, Nigeria
Country:Nigeria
State or province:Edo state
Location of conflict:Ovia North East, west of Benin city
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
Deforestation
Specific commodities:Palm oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

In 2016, Dr. Graham Heifer, in an interview with journalists shortly after a meeting with the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Prince Joe Okojie, disclosed that the company has spent over N2.5bn on the new plantation. (2) (1 Nigerian Naira = 0.003 USD). On her side Rita Ukawa from the WRM (1) reported in January 2017:

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Project area:13,750
Level of Investment:8,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:60,000 farmers
Start of the conflict:2010
Company names or state enterprises:Socfin from Luxembourg
Okomu Oil Palm Company PLC from Belgium
Relevant government actors:Government of Edo State, Nigeria
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:ERA, Environmental Rights Action, Nigeria
Friends of the Earth International
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Threats to use arms
In Febraury 2015, "Okomu Oil Palm Plc owns vast oil palm and rubber plantations at Udo and it is the largest employer of labour in the locality. Its facilities are guarded by over 120 armed personnel, including men of the Police and the Army. Despite the heavy security presence and supposed cordial relationship between the company and its host communities, the Ijaw youths in the locality have continued to unleash mayhem on the company and its workers." (3)
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, 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, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsPotential: Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Violations of human rights
Outcome
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (undecided)
Repression
Violent targeting of activists
Development of alternatives:As listed by ERA:
Okomu Oil Palm Company PLC obey the Edo State Government revocation order of 13,750 hectares of de-reserved land in Owan and Okomu forest reserves.
Support family farming and local food systems, not destructive industrial agricultural models.
Stop Deforestation and Land grabbing for Large-scale Oil palm plantation expansion by Okomu Oil Palm Company PLC.
Trading our forests for industrial oil palm plantations business is a dangerous eco-business that has devastating negative social and environmental impacts.
Prioritise public good over private interest.
No due process or EIA certificate for Okomu Oil Palm Company PLC.
Communities are the best custodians of forests and nature, Community forest management method is the answer to food deficit.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:According to ERA, Edo State is currently second highest in terms of deforestation in Nigeria behind Cross River State. Okomu Oil Palm has become one of the major drivers of deforestation for oil palm cultivation in Nigeria and they have continued to disregard the revocation order to further their expansion.
Sources and Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Things Fall Apart: The Political Ecology of Forest Governance in Southern Nigeria. By Pauline von Hellermann, New York: Berghahn, 2013. 191 pp.

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

(2) Okomu Oil to employ 45,000 in new plantation. Jan 26 2016.
[click to view]

(4) Environment News Nigeria, 21 June 2017
[click to view]

(6) The Guardian, 12 Oct. 2015. Nigeria: ERA, Communities Decry Indiscriminate Land Use By Multinationals. By Alemma-Ozioruva Aliu and Michael Egbejule
[click to view]

(3) Killing of oil plantation workers by Ijaw youth (Febr. 2015).
[click to view]

(5) Environmentalists, groups protest acquisition of 14,000 hectares of land by Okomu Oil.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

(1) FIELD REPORT 380. Title: Okomu Oil Palm PLC, Clears Forest, Farmlands for Industrial Agro Business in Edo State.

Written by Rita Uwaka , Project Officer, Forest & Biodiversity, ERA/FoE Nigeria & Coordinator. Dateline: 17th January, 2017
[click to view]

Good analysis of the Okomu company and events at the oil palm plantation by the World Rainforest Movement, 2014.
[click to view]

Other documents

[click to view]

From Environment News, Nigeria
[click to view]

[click to view]

Meta information
Last update30/06/2017
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