Location: Biseni clan, situated in Yenagoa Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, Nigeria
Date : February 6, 2010


The people of Biseni clan are Ijaws administratively situated in Yenagoa local government area of Bayelsa State. Their immediate neighbors include JK4[Edagberi] in Ahoada Local government area of Rivers state and Agbere community in Sagbama local government area of Bayelsa state. The clan is host to the Nigerian Agip Oil Company [Eni] and the Shell Petroleum Development Company [SPDC]. Accordingly, the area has experienced several oil spills and other negative practices of the oil multinationals. While the people of Biseni were still grappling with the negative consequences of oil spills and Oil Company policies that deny them of their rights, ERA received news that some persons have arrived the clan and were attempting to acquire large parcels of their arable land. ERA’s field monitors took immediate steps to ascertain the truth or otherwise of the matter. This was done in the interest of the communities considering the issues of Climate Change, Carbon Credit and speculators dispossessing the locals of their farming land for commercial farming.


On arriving Biseni clan, ERA went straight into the residence of the paramount ruler of Kilama community, one of the communities that made up the clan. Below is his response to ERA’s visit:

I am Chief Justus Prince Bekesu, the Amadaowei of Kilama community in Biseni clan. I want to thank you for your visit. As a matter of fact, though we might not be able to express our gratitude enough, we appreciate ERA’s concern and effort in our affairs. You may not be aware, but Biseni clan has up to ten communities. These include: Kila ama, Tambiri, Aleibiri, Oturuama,Obabiriama[Akudonu],Biriama [Egbebiri 1]Ayakuroama [Egbebiri2], Tuburu, Akpide Toru ama, and Akpide.  Yes, I confirm here that what you heard about our land is true. A certain group from Lagos came here to say they wish to acquire a very large expanse of our land. And, of a truth, they made use of one of our own, who claims to be the paramount ruler of the entire clan. According to them the purpose of seeking the land was to satisfy the company’s tourism aspirations. I will get the exact name of the company seeking this land and let you know when you visit again. Please try and come again next week, we shall give you further details of the company and those behind the deal. It is a very serious matter we have at hand now.
Here in Biseni, we are all dependent on the land for our livelihood. Again, we have a tradition here that allows families to own land. So, the families that owned the land within the area that are being targeted for disposition. They are not happy with the development. We are still consulting amongst ourselves. Already moves are on to see the Secretary to the State Government on the matter. This is a genuine move to avoid violent conflict on the matter. As you know, the Niger Deltan, especially the Ijaws have always been somewhat associated with violence. But we are not a violent people. It is when we react in defense of our rights that we are called violent people, often when pushed to the wall. And in this particular case, we are not going to release our land for what those seeking it say that intend to do with it. We don’t even believe them that the purpose of seeking the land is for tourism. Besides, we need to retain the land for our farming, hunting and fishing needs.

I will advise you to come back next week when we must have reached a consensus on the matter. The families are putting their heads together on the matter now. We would like ERA to assist us in this battle, as we intend to leave no stone unturned to get justice. We will resist any attempt to disposes us of our land.


The issue of allowing corporate entities to take possession of land belonging to local farmers is becoming a phenomenon in Nigeria. Since our local people depend on their farmlands for livelihood and the security of their tenure must be defended. The Biseni people are apprehensive of the move to grab their land. They foresee a violent confrontation. They want their rights protected.
In the light of the above, recommendation is made, tentatively, pending when the full details are out that:

1    The Biseni people should remain united on their decision to defend their land
2    The Bayelsa State Government should ensure that, in its bid to attract investors, the     rights of the local people to sustainable livelihood are taking into consideration and     protected.
3    All stakeholders should rise up with the Biseni people on this matter of land grab.
4    Send letters to editors of newspapers in your near you exposing the attempt to grab     Biseni community land and demand the security of this crucial resource necessary for     their livelihoods.


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