ERA, communities decry indiscriminate land use by multinationals
THE Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has expressed dismay by the activities of most big multinational companies in the country over the ugly trend of forcefully denying their host communities the use of their lands without any commensurate compensation.
The environmental activists’ report and testimonies of field visits to communities impacted by the activities of Okomu Oil Palm Plc in Edo State, South-South, Nigeria, noted with fear that if the ugly and fast-becoming trend by multinational companies involved in land grabbing was not addressed, more communities in Edo may face eviction with rife human rights violations.
Several Okomu rural dwellers also described as worrisome activities of the company in the two forest reserves allegedly acquired by the multinational company as a violation of their rights and a threat to their socio-economic existence.
Rita Uwaka, project officer of ERA in her research findings, told journalists that it was noted that Okomu Oil Palm firm grabbed more land across forest reserves for oil palm business and “another 11,000 hectares of farmland, including two forest reserves grabbed for oil palm plantation expansion by Okomu Oil Palm Plc- a member of the global SOCFIN Group, is worrisome, adding that community-based livelihoods, comprising mainly farming and fishing, had been truncated with over 20 communities risking eviction and human rights abuses.
According to her, ERA noted with dismay: “There is increasing threat to existing food security system as hunger prevails, sicknesses and diseases arising from plantation chemicals and poor sanitation are having differentiated impact on women and children. No documented evidence of an Environmental Impact Assessment in sight. Entry and exit of community people from their territories is at the mercy of the plantation company.
She said: “Community people’s capacities need to be improved upon on their rights as many of them have been brainwashed to believing that they have no right to challenge any land deal with Okomu Oil Palm Company Plc and that their coming is a development opportunity.”
Besides, ERA alleged that over 11,000 hectares of forested land as well as communal farmlands located within Owan and Ehor Forest Reserves in Ovia North-East Local Council of Edo State had been grabbed by the company, Okomu Oil Palm Plc, to further its industrial oil palm plantation expansion project in Nigeria.