“It is in recognition of this that we decided to embark on community training on forestry laws in defence of the communal land rights so that communities are able to demand and negotiate enforceable outcomes so that environmental and social impacts are minimised.”
By Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
The Environmental Rights Action, Friend of Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), a non governmental organisation,Â Wednesdayraised the alarm over what it termed the non fulfillment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) particularly the goal one which takes care of zero poverty and goal two which is the elimination of hunger by 2030.
The body hinged the non-realisation of this two aspects of SDGs to land grabbing which it said has led to scarcity of land for local food production.
The Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, made the submission while giving his opening remarks during the training on “Forestry Laws and Protection of Communal Land Rights” in Benin City, the Edo State capital.
Ojo also decried the expansion of oil palm plantations in connivance with government officials to the detriment of the inhabitants of communities where these plantations are located.
“While large scale oil palm plantations are growing, it is leading to a global phenomenon called land grabbing and dispossessions because such land is either appropriated by collusion with governments officials or undervalued and exchanged below prevailing market price.
“First, land grabbing leads to scarcity of land for local food production. Local 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.
“Such trend is telling on the rising local food prices of yam tubers, cassava and other farm produce,” he said.
He further said that land grabbing has also led to environmental degradation, violation of human rights, and conflicts in most communities in Nigeria.
The ERA/FoEN boss said that all hands must be on deck to put an end to land grabbing through training of citizens in forestry laws.
According to him, “ERA/FoEN in conjunction with other civil society groups feel the pain and misery of the impacted communities and desire that both governments and multinational companies respect communities free, prior and informed consent in any development to be located in their domain.
“There is the need to protect community land rights in the face of rising oil palm plantation through knowledge-based claim making process.