EDO/OKOMU – The journalists revealed that rubber and palm oil craze is a reason behind land grabbing, deforestation, and human rights violations in both Ghana and Nigeria. The French company Socfin's presence in southern Nigeria has caused host communities pain and rights violations, even if they mask it with well-oiled communication.

Okomu Community is a remote community in Edo State, Nigeria, with no access to the city other than through the company's estate, Okomu Oil Palm Company, a Socfin subsidiary.

The community has existed since before 1950—-before the Edo State Forestry Ordinance—but the company claims that some of the community's lands have been de-reserved.

As a result, the company has locked the only access road leading into and out of the community on several occasions, which has prevented dozens of children from attending school.

Moreover, several residents of the Okomu community have been displaced as a result of the company's destruction and burning of their homes in order to plant its plantation. Residents are still crying and pleading for help from all over the world to put an end to the violations of their rights. 

The consequences of Socfin's presence in Ghana are not any brighter: the investigation revealed how the relentless exploitation of rubber and palm oil resources by Plantation Socfinaf Ghana is fuelling deforestation in the Western Region of Ghana. The journalists also looked at the impact on food security and rainfall distribution in this country.

Finally, they took a deep dive to see what kind of new communication tools  Socfin employs to improve the image of its rubber industry: indicators without substance, unfulfilled commitments, and certain 'investigations', the independence of which leaves much to be desired. Seven years after the company published its "sustainable management policy", many consider that not much has changed.

Photo credit: Socfin Rubber Plantation Estate in Edo State, Nigeria, by Elfredah Kevin-Alerechi.


Team members

Elfredah Kevin-Alerechi

Elfredah Kevin-Alerechi is an investigative journalist from Nigeria.

Elfredah Kevin-Alerechi

Gideon Sarpong

Gideon Sarpong is a journalist and policy analyst in Ghana.

Gideon Sarpong

Audrey Travère

Audrey Travère is a freelance investigative journalist, based in Paris, France.

Audrey Travère

Maarten Bakker

Maarten Bakker is a Dutch journalist and researcher. 


Robert Soutar

Robert Soutar is a writer and editor with more than ten years' experience of specialising in environment and development.

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