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
NameOkomu oil palm plantation, Edo State, Nigeria
CountryNigeria
ProvinceEdo state
SiteOvia 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)Deforestation
Land acquisition conflicts
Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Specific CommoditiesPalm oil
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsIn 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:

1. The company bulldozes Owan Forest Reserve and neighbouring Community farmlands for large scale Oil Palm Plantation business.

2. Over 60,000 people across 30 communities in 3 Local Government Areas of Edo State risk grave impacts due to Deforestation and Land grabbing for Industrial Oil Palm Plantations by Okomu Oil Palm Company PLC.

3. Okomu Oil Palm Company PLC is Belgian and a member of the global SOCFIN Group.

4. Irhue Clan and bordering communities are in danger of losing their age-old heritage.

5. Divide and Rule tactics instigated by Company breeds conflict, rift and insecurity in communities.

6. Apprehension brews for fear of project`s threat to existing local food systems.

7. There is no documented evidence of an inclusive Environmental Impact Assessment in sight.

8. Communities lack basic infrastructural presence like Electricity, portable pipe borne water, health care delivery system etc...

9. Conversion of Forest to plantation poses differentiated impacts on women and

vulnerable groups.
Project Area (in hectares)13,750
Level of Investment (in USD)8,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population60,000 farmers
Start Date2010
Company Names or State EnterprisesSocfin from Luxembourg
Okomu Oil Palm Company PLC from Belgium
Relevant government actorsGovernment of Edo State, Nigeria
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersERA, Environmental Rights Action, Nigeria

Friends of the Earth International
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationCreation 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
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-economic 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)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCourt decision (undecided)
Repression
Violent targeting of activists
Development of AlternativesAs 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 as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.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

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

Links

(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]

Media Links

(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

From Environment News, Nigeria
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Meta Information
Last update30/06/2017
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