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Ekiti cargo Airport, Nigeria


Description:

On 2nd October 2015 the state government of Ekiti, in western Nigeria, sent in bulldozers to begin clearing 4,000 hectares of farmland for an airport. Bulldozers ripped down trees and destroyed farmland before compensation, for loss of land and livelihood, had been even discussed with affected farm owners [1]. The  Nation Nigeria reported that State Governor Ayo Fayose was pursuing the project with such a ‘frenzy’ that he had failed to even consult with farmers holding customary titles to the land [2]. An oil palm farmer  whose plantation was bulldozed, Tijani Hakeem, died, reportedly of shock.

Land owners from the five farm settlements affected – Igbemo, Igbogun, Aso Ayegunle, Ijan and Araromi Obbo –  demanded compensation and to be relocated elsewhere. Produce cultivated on the land allocated to the airport had been their only source of livelihood, and the area also hosted sacred trees and a shrine. Their outcry succeeded in stalling the land clearance. On 13th October Governor Fayose announced that work on the airport would be suspended until December, promising to pay affected farmers compensation and grant them time to harvest their crops [3].

The airport faced vocal opposition from within the state government. Former Speaker Femi Bamisile described pursuit of the project as a “misplaced priority” and a “criminal act”, saying it has been inaugurated without following due process and querying the tender for the project.[1] The All Progressive Congress (APC) of Ekiti state criticised state funding for the airport, which would benefit the elite, at the expense of initiatives for growth of the local economy to support impoverished residents. The estimated project cost was US$85.4 million, allocated in spite of Fayose’s claim that the state had no money.[] An APC spokesperson described the airport project as a “drain pipe to siphon money from Ekiti State treasury”, and questioned the economic rationale with an underutilized established airport, Akure, less than an hour’s drive away.[4]

Farmers continued their resistance to the airport. In December a group of affected farmers and landowners filed a suit, on behalf of themselves and others in the four affected communities, seeking damages for ‘unlawful and forcible acquisition’ of their land, displacement, destruction of farm buildings and removal of their crops. They also sought an injunction barring officials from further removal of or damage to their crops and buildings, and for the revocation of their rights to the land to be declared ‘unconstitutional, illegal, null and void’.[1]

On 20th January 2016 a group of farmers protested, storming the project site and demanded that work cease immediately, in respect of the suit that they had filed. They held placards reading: “Gov Fayose, Please Leave Us Alone, Don’t Damage Our Life”, “This Land Is The Major Cocoa Plantation, Please No Trespass”, “Please Relocate Your Airport to Government Forest”, “We All Say No To Illegal Airport Project”, “Iwajo, Aso Say No To Illegal Airport”, and “Igbogun Cries Over Illegal Destruction of Our Property”. Farmers said that government officials had entered their land and stolen produce including cocoa, yams and bananas. They also stated that at least ten farmers, including three women, had ‘died of shock’ caused by the destruction of their farms and ensuing economic loss [5].

On 22nd March 2016 nine farmers secured a major court victory. Their suit was successful and all their claims – against Governor Fayose, the state Commissioner for Works, Commissioner for Lands and Housing, and Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice – were fully vindicated. The high court in Ado-Ekiti ruled that forcible takeover of land for the airport project, revocation of their rights to their parcels of land, forcible entry into farmsteads, and destruction of crops, trees and buildings on this land, were all unconstitutional, illegal null and void. The judge also ordered that over US$25,000 be paid to the farmers in damages and an injunction was granted restraining the defendants from forcibly entering the farmland and from harassing or intimidating the claimants.[6]

The project may be revived. In October 2016 the Ekiti State government stated that Ekiti Airport would be included in its 2017 budget [7]. In January 2018 Governor Fayose was still determined to construct the airport and said the matter was at the Appeal Court [8].

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Ekiti cargo Airport, Nigeria
Country:Nigeria
State or province:Ekiti State
Location of conflict:Ado-Ekiti
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Ports and airport projects
Specific commodities:Land

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The plan is for a cargo airport to open up Ekiti for development. Farmland was destroyed for an airport that its proponents envisaged would be utilized to export farm produce. The Speaker of the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Kola Oluwawole, stated support for a cargo airport, to open up resources to exploration and to “ensure seamless exportation of agricultural products”.[9]

When the farmland was bulldozed in October 2015 the estimated project cost was US$85.4 million. A 2017 investigation of Nigeria’s abandoned and unviable airport projects stated that the Ekiti State budget for Ekiti Airport is N20 billion (US$55.4 million).[10]

Project area:4,000
Level of Investment:US$85.4 million
Type of populationRural
Affected Population: five villages
Start of the conflict:02/10/2015
End of the conflict:22/03/2016
Relevant government actors:Ekiti State Government

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local government/political parties
Women
Forms of mobilization:Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Street protest/marches
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Noise pollution
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Deaths
Potential: Malnutrition
Other Health impactsTen farmers died, reportedly of 'shock' caused by destruction of their farmland and ensuing economic loss[5]
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures

Outcome

Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The affected landowners' suit was successful and the airport project was halted, but the Ekiti state is still planning to construct the airport.

Sources & Materials

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[5] Farmers protest over government airport project in Ekiti, Daily Post, 20 January 2016
http://dailypost.ng/2016/01/20/farmers-protest-over-government-airport-project-in-ekiti

[2] My airport bigger than yours, The Nation, 21 October 2015
http://thenationonlineng.net/my-airport-bigger-than-yours/

[3] Fayose suspends Ekiti airport project, The Nation, 13 October 2015
http://thenationonlineng.net/fayose-suspends-ekiti-airport-project/

[4] General Fayose’s airport project a drain pipe – APC, Daily Trust, 23 September 2015
https://www.dailytrust.com.ng/news/general/fayose-s-airport-project-a-drain-pipe-apc/111968.html

[8] Why Ekiti airport project failed – Afe Babalola, Fayose, Vanguard, 26 January 2018
https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/01/ekiti-airport-project-failed-afe-babalola-fayose/

[1] Nigerian farmers win High Court victory in fight against Ekiti airport, The Ecologist, 8 April 2016
http://www.theecologist.org/campaigning/2987347/nigerian_farmers_win_high_court_court_victory_in_fight_against_ekiti_airport.html

[6] Court Asks Fayose To Stay Action On Airport Project, News Herald, 23 March 2016
http://newsherald.com.ng/2016/03/23/court-asks-fayose-to-stay-action-on-airport-project/

[7] New Ekiti Airport, Centre for Aviation (CAPA)
https://centreforaviation.com/data/profiles/newairports/new-ekiti-airport

[9] Airport will open up Ekiti –Speaker, The Eagle Online, 11 September 2015
http://theeagleonline.com.ng/airport-will-open-up-ekiti-speaker/

[10] 14 states spend N250bn on abandoned, unviable airport projects – Investigation, The Point, 30 June 2017
https://www.thepointng.com/14-states-spend-n250bn-on-abandoned-unviable-airport-projects-investigation/

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

2nd October 2015 - Commissioner for Works of Ekiti State, interviewed about procurement of 4,000 hectares of land for Ekiti Airport, bulldozers remove trees in the background
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntLQgD-gaC0

Other documents

Farmland bulldozed for airport in Ekiti The state government sent in bulldozers to clear land for an airport. Source: Daily Post Nigeria
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Ekiti_1.jpg

Palm trees, cocoa trees and other crops destroyed Trees were ripped down before compensation had been even discussed. Source: Information Nigeria
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Ekiti_2.jpg

Crops bulldozed for Ekiti Airport Landowners from five villages were affected. Source: Homeland News
https://file.ejatlas.org/docs/Ekiti_3.jpg

Meta information

Contributor:Rose Bridger, Stay Grounded, email: [email protected]
Last update29/08/2018

Images

 

Farmland bulldozed for airport in Ekiti

The state government sent in bulldozers to clear land for an airport. Source: Daily Post Nigeria

Palm trees, cocoa trees and other crops destroyed

Trees were ripped down before compensation had been even discussed. Source: Information Nigeria

Crops bulldozed for Ekiti Airport

Landowners from five villages were affected. Source: Homeland News