By The Street Journal
Environmental Rights Actions/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA) has called on Federal Ministry of Environment and the National Park Service (NPS) to set up a panel of inquiry to probe the recent killing of calf at the Okumu Oil Plantation a Federal credit Union in Uwhunode Local Government, Edo State.
ERA, in collaboration with the organization for Protection for Okomu National Park & the Environment (PONPE), in a press briefing in Abuja, Tuesday, said the panel was necessary to unravel those behind the recent killing of the elephant and “bring the culprits to book to serve as deterrent.”
Dr. David Uyi Ojo, the country executive director of of ERA/FoEN, said activities of Okomu palm oil company has put pressure on the buffer zone and threatening the extinction of “rare endemic species such as the white throated monkeys, dwarf crocodiles, bufallos, duikers, and other biodiversity,” in the locality.
He said findings by ERA field monitors suggest that the endangered elephant calf may have been killed by workers of the oil company.
Speaking through Tony Erha, director of PONPE, ERA/FoEN said that the panel should also look into the grabbing of Okomu National Park main and buffer lands by the company, stretching over 13,750 hetres of land “which Edo State Government had revoked in Owan and Okomu forest reserves and converted it into park’s buffers.”
“The multinational company, with its vast plantations surrounding ONP had been confirmed as having forcibly taken over about 16,000 tectres from the ONP area and buffers of the park. These incursions without a participatory Environmental and Social Impacts Assessments mean that the expansion was conducted without due process. As a result part if the wildlife habitat destroyed is restricting the movements of ONP’s faunas and opening it to more threats, the Civil Service Organizations said.”
It was alleged that community members in the area said their farmlands were illegally acquired and no compensation paid for destroyed crops
They started further: “The Environment Ministers should also probe the alleged approval of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) certification to Okomu PLC, despite the flouting of the earlier directives in exercise by previous Environment Minister.”
The organization accused Okomu oil of refusing to comply by the mandatory EIA laws and flouted the directives from the Environment Minister to carry out the study in Owan forest reserve.
According to the ERA: “The directives were through a letter addressed to Dr. Heifer and Okomu PKC by the Environment Minister, dated 22nd September, 2015 (Ref: No. FMEnc/EA/123:271/Vol.1/28)”