Reply by the Traditional Council of Okomu Kingdom to the Okomu Oil Palm Company, a subsidiary of SOCFIN.

Okomu Kingdom | 17 May 2019

Reply by the Traditional Council of Okomu Kingdom to the Okomu Oil Palm Company, of subsidiary of SOCFIN.

(View the original signed letter)

Dear Sir,
We acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated 11th April which although was sent to us on the 20th of same month. The content of your letter is not only laughable but a well calculated public relation stunt and deception which has no value, but with intent to hoodwink public empathy. You will recall that on the 20th December, 2018 you told the community that the request made to your company is not within the responsibility of the company, and that the only thing your company can give to the community as part of the company’s corporate social responsibility is a Cassava Grinding Machine, and that the community should apply to your company in writing for the Cassava Grinding Machine which they have not done, and will never do. How does that now amount to retracting an initial letter as you have opined in your letter. Secondly Chief Wuluku has never been made chairman of any committee for the past three years as you had want the public to believe.   
It is no longer a hidden fact that your company “Okomu Oil Palm Plc”, a large scale plantation company covering thousands of hectares of land generate conflicts, and many other serious problems for the Okomu communities, which you often deny and turnaround to antagonize, marginalize and silence the indigenous and rightful owners of the land with your draconian stunt and tactics such as:
1. Secure empathy, support and approval from high level Government officials. 
2. Secure empathy and support from certain dubious and treacherous local characters in the bid to divide and conquer the people.   
3. Promise employment, good roads, schools and health facilities you do not intend to keep or honour. 
4. Organize community meetings with no clear aims and objectives all to create the appearance or impression of community relationship and consent.
5. Promise improved food security and sustainability, but create food insecurity by your aggressive and illegal policies in disenfranchising indigenous rights. How can you create food security and sustainability when paradoxically your company is responsible for the condition and plight the Okomu communities are facing by stealing their lands.   
6. You Forge signatures, and falsify documents on behalf of Okumu community people. 
The Government of Edo State has the blames for this negative situation facing the communities, since they negotiated a contract that clearly cannot be implemented without violating the rights of the community people, as can be buttressed by the fact that the said land deal between your company and Edo State Government has never been seen by the affected communities hence it is against conventional fair play and repugnant to Nigeria freedom of information act, legal justice, the rule of law and land tenure act, and was poorly executed from the onset, with no regard to international treaties and law which Nigeria is also a signatory.
  • That henceforth Okomu Kingdom would enforce its rightful ownership of the land
  • Okomu traditional council nor the communities were not consulted prior to Government signing the contract with Okomu Oil Palm Plc and as such we will henceforth consider your company as persona non grata
  • That the contract between Okomu Oil Palm Plantation and Edo State Government was not a transparent land deal and entered into without the consent of the affected communities. 
  • The contract does not respect our rights to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), a must do for all binding, legal land development agreement. 
  • That the enormous area of land, including farms, forests, water springs, river banks and forest reserves illegally acquired has forced many Okomu communities out of work because your palm trees and rubber are now at their door steps and there is no alternative livelihood options. For the communities, these changes are negative and not the positive development that your company Okomu Oil Palm Plc and Edo State Government claims, as the Indigenous people are constantly threatened. 
  • Okomu Kingdom and its people bear the brunt and other deficits associated with Okomu Oil Palm Plc activities, we have been at the receiving end of executive repression, faced with environmental and economic annihilation and land grab by your company Okomu oil Palm Plc. 
  • Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is an internationally enforceable right, therefore Okomu Oil Palm Plc should go back to status quo ante to right the wrongs against the Okomu Communities or vacate the area totally.
  • Okomu Oil Palm Plc must urgently rebuild and reinstate the four communities forcefully evicted and restore the environment and properties extirpated by your company, “Okomu Oil Palm Plc”. 
  • Okomu Oil Palm Plc must as a matter of urgency return the fishing traps seized from the 35 women for using the stream for their livelihood and pay compensation immediately.  
  • Before any further development of Oil Palm or Rubber Production, a negotiation, survey and documentation must be immediately carried out on the entire land occupied by Okomu Oil Palm Plc. Failure to do so and abide to the new terms will earn Okomu Oil Palm Plc a status of illegal occupier.

Therefore, failure to comply with the above resolution of the people of Okomu Kingdom, the Okomu Oil Palm Plc will be regarded as an enemy and will be treated as such.

Edo State Government and Okomu Oil Palm Plc must be held responsible for any breakdown of law and order that might arise as a result of this negotiation to these resolution.  
Traditional Council of Okomu Kingdom 
CC: His Excellency the Governor of Edo State (through the Chief of staff)
His Excellency the Deputy Governor of Edo State (through the chief of Staff)
CP State Command Nigeria Police Force
AIG Zone 5 Nigeria Police Force
Commander 4 Mechanize Brigade
Director of State Security (DSS)
DPO Iguobazuwa Nigerian Police Force
The Chairman Ovia South West Local Government  
Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ)
Environmental Rights Action –Friends of the Earth (ERA-FoeN)
Foundation for Good Governance and Social change (FGGS)
Global Forest watch 
World Rainforest Movement 
Oil Palm African 
Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE)
Nigeria bar Association (NBA) Edo State Branch
Independent Radio and Television (ITV) 
  • Women living near the #Socapalm oil palm plantation in Edéa, Cameroon, are struggling for their land, autonomy and livelihoods. Please read their account and sign in support before 15 December: https://forms.gle/gBKbFCv2Bizzpfbt7
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