Environmental Rights Actions/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN) has called on the Federal Ministry of Environment and the National Park Service (NPS) to set up a panel of inquiry to probe the recently alleged killing of a calf in the plantation of Okumu Oil Palm Company PLC. Comrade Tony Erha, the Convener of PONPE, on behalf of the ERA/FoEN – lead coalition, Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, Executive Director of ERA/FoEN, in collaboration with the coalition groups like the Protection of Okomu National Park & the Environment (PONPE) and the Coalition Against Landgrabbing & Deforestation (CALD) told journalist in Okomu recently that government at all level must show that they are capable of protecting wild lives. The groups asserted that it was time to unravel those behind the recent killing of the young rare elephant from the scanty herds in Okomu National Park (ONP) and “bring the culprits to book to serve as deterrence.
Tony Erha said, that the 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, buffalos, duikers, and other biodiversity,” in Okomu National Park. According to him, findings by the coalitions suggest that the endangered elephant calf was killed by workers of the oil palm company, after the continuous encroachment on the buffers around the forest primarily reserved for the park purpose. “We want the government to canvass for the panel to look into the grabbing of Okomu National Park’s main and buffer lands by the company, stretching over 13,750 hectares of land “which Edo State Government had revoked in Owan and Okomu forest reserves and re-convert same into the park’s buffers. The multinational company, with its vast plantations surrounding the wildlife life park had been confirmed as having forcibly taken over about 16,000 hectares from the 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 of the wildlife habitat destroyed is restricting the movements of faunas and opening it to more threats,” the Civil Society Organisations said.