Fred Itua, Abuja
Some civil society groups, led by the Environmental Rights Actions/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA), have called on the Minister for Environment, Dr. Mohammed Mahmoud and the National Park Service (NPS) to set up a panel of inquiry to probe the recent killing of an elephant in the plantation of Okumu Oil Palm.
The disputed forest is located in the Owan area of Edo State. In a statement made available in Abuja by Dr. Godwin Uyi Ojo, executive director of ERA, in collaboration with the coalition groups like the Protection for Okomu National Park & the Environment (PONPE) and the Coalition Against Land Grabbing & Deforestation (CALD), said the need to take decisive action was urgent.
“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,” part of the statement reads.
The organisation claimed that the oil firm 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 PLC by the Environment Minister, dated 22nd September 2015 (Ref: No. FMEnc/EA/123:271/Vol.1/28).”
The groups asserted that the panel was necessary to additionally 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.”
Dr. Ojo said activities of the 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.”