Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin-City
The Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth (ERA/FOEN), on Tuesday, charged the Okomu Oil Plc to stop parading the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certificate as it has not met its requirement.
The group who made its position known at a workshop/ media conference, titled, “certification as false solution to land grabbing”, noted that the claimed of RSPO certification by Okomu oil Plc was false.
“Okomu oil Plc, RSPO certification is a false solution because it does not address environmental and socio problems in a community. The oil firm should stop parading itself as having RSPO certified compliance.
“They are not meeting RSPO guidelines and standards yet they continued to enjoy the advertisement and putting this logo on their signpost. We called on them to remove the RSPO certification from their narrative forthwith”, he said.
Recall, that Okomu oil Plc and other investors in the palm oil industry in the state last April presented and launched the Nigeria National Interpretation of Round table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to the public in Benin-City.
The communities are located in Ovia South-West, Ovia North-East, Uhunmwode and Owan West local government areas.
Executive Director of ERA/FOEN, Godwin Uyi Ojo, who addressed the press conference, said that Okomu Oil Plc is not amongst the over 3,500 companies, who are worldwide members of RSPO.
Ojo, who also explained that the palm oil giant was not certified by RSPO, however, added that Socfin, it’s mainstream shareholder firm, who controls its major shares, is duly certified and is RSPO member.
In his words, “On Socfin’s website there are some certifications Okomu Plc has in Nigeria, but are not directly linked to RSPO certification, covering its acclaimed 36,000 hectares plantation. Okomu Plc is not known to have formally applied to be a member.
“Okomu oil Plc has no RSPO certification. Still, it publicly claims to uphold RSPO certification procedures in its operations, whereas this does not amount to direct RSPO membership. It does not also suggest the certification of its plantations and socio-economic gauges. Evidently, the company was part of RSPO meeting. The company is not certified by the RSPO.
“Okomu oil palm company Plc asserts to have been given some certification in the category of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) , through a bureau Veritas. Nevertheless, Okomu plc’s certification status with the main Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), is vague, but the company is hesitant declaring its true standing”, he added.
He added that the RSPO categorically state that there shall be no deforestation in areas of oil palm, whether new or expanding plantation.
He noted that from Odiguette community in Ovia North-East, Igbobazuwa, Okomu communities in Ovia South-West to Sabo-Gida community in Owan West and Uhunmwode local government deforestation has taken massively.
Uyi maintained that with the continued deforestation, Okomu oil Plc cannot paraded itself as having RSPO-certified.
He further admonished Okomu Oil Plc to stop all forms of oil palm plantation expansion that are detrimental to community farmlands, biodiversity hotspots and historical sites, settle all outstanding cases of compensation arising from destroyed crops and farmlands, halt environmental and rights violations and evictions of communities in its areas of operation and halt using any form of armed military personnel to molest and intimidate the people among.