BY ISAAC OLAMIKAN
Executive Director of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, Nigeria(ERA/FoEN), Godwin Uyi Ojo, has called on the Edo State Government to establish a Town Hall Conflict Resolution mechanism to promote dialogue and redress the impact of land grabbing, environmental degradation, social impacts and human rights violations of the people of the state.
He made the call at a Training Workshop on Community Land Rights and Oil Palm Expansion held at the Precious Palm Royal Hotel, Benin City recently.
Dr. Ojo disclosed that the growth of large scale oil plantations is leading to land grabbing and dispossession “because such land is either appropriated by collusion with governments’ officials or undervalued and exchanged below prevailing market price.”
He stated that “land grabbing in Edo State has serious consequences for the rural communities, local farming and livelihoods of the people.”
Dr. Ojo posited that land grabbing leads to scarcity of land for local food production, adding that local food production is hampered by land scarcity as some farmers have to pay exorbitant price annually for hire of parcels of land for farming of staples.
He asserted that such trend is telling on the rising local food prices.
Going further, he averred that land grabbing for oil palm production leads to environmental degradation, human rights violations and conflicts in the communities.
According to him, a serious challenge is the level of access to justice. He emphasised that the rural farmers “lack the human and financial resources to battle with multinationals such as Okomu Oil Palm Plantation Plc that has appropriated 13,750 hectares of farmlands in Edo State.”
In his contribution, Barrister Austin Osakue, Executive Director, Foundation for Good Governance and Social Change(FGGSC) disclosed that community people have rights which are a set of powers to determine the direction of development in their community.
He advocated that the people of the communities must sufficiently acquaint themselves of these rights.
In his submission, Barrister President Aigboghan, Executive Director, Freedom of Information Counsel/Rural Development and Information Centre, charged the Edo state government to fashion out some business and human rights policies to guide multinationals that intend to do business in the state.
BY ISAAC OLAMIKAN