By Gabriel Enogholase
BENIN—EXE-CUTIVE Director of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth, ERA/FoN, Dr Uyi Ojo, has warned that grabbing of community lands by multi-national corporations for oil palm plantations may lead to the creation of another set of internally displaced persons in some states of the federation.
He also accused government officials and some traditional rulers of colluding with multi-national corporations to grab communal lands to undervalue and exchange below prevailing market prices.
Dr Ojo, who spoke yesterday in Benin in an address, titled “Our Environment is Not For Sale”, during the training of rural participants from Ovia South-West and Ovia North-East Local Government Areas of Edo State, said land grabbing has serious consequences for the rural communities, local farmers and their livelihoods.
He said, “While large scale oil palm plantations are growing, it is leading to a global phenomenon called land grabbing and dispossession because such land was neither appropriated by collusion by government officials and some traditional rulers nor undervalued and exchanged below prevailing market price.”
“Firstly, land grabbing leads to scarcity of land for local food production. Local food production is hampered by land scarcity as some farmers have to pay exorbitant price annually to hire parcels of land for farming of staple food . Such trend is telling on the rising prices of local food stuff .
“ Secondly, land grabbing for oil palm production leads to environmental degradation, human rights violation and conflicts in. communities. A serious challenge is the level to access to justice which remains a big issue in. Nigeria
“The poor rural farmers whose farms have been destroyed or appropriated lack the human and resources to battle with multi nationals such as Okomu Oil Palm
Palm Plantation Plc that has appropriated 13, 750 hectares of farm lands in Edo State.”
He called on the Edo State government to address the lacuna by establishing 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 Edo State.