This is the third time the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria [ERA/FoEN] is documenting this matter of attempts by some persons to acquire land expense of land at Biseni. ERA first issued at alert in February, 2010 and followed up with an update in April, 2010. Earlier reports indicated the united stance on the issue by the entire clan of Biseni; that they were not willing to give any portion of their forest/land to those seeking to possess it for an alleged tourism venture.

ERA ‘s field monitor visited again and the above date following the news of a violent clash between Egbebiri community and the rest of the clan.

At Biseni:
On arrival, ERA’s field monitor contacted with Chief Nelson Biraye Amoye, a former Chairman of the Biseni Chiefs Council and a retired civil servant at his home in Tuboru-Biseni. He confirmed the violent incident to ERA but asked that we should wait for the full details and collective decision of the clan after a meeting, as the clan may issue statements after taking another critical look at the matter, following the recent development. Meanwhile he confirmed earlier reports of ERA and added.

“We have written to the authorities on this matter. We sent copies to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria when he was a Vice-President. The Inspector General of Police, the State Security Service [SSS], Ministry of Environment in the state and other relevant Offices in the state were sent copies of our letter; stating our observations and collective stance. Our people were invited for meetings with the authorities, including the police on the matter. We were, however, surprised when news filtered that some persons were allowed into the forest and surveying by a community within the clan. Some youths were sent to by the clan to ascertain the situation.

As the youths sent to confirm the situation were returning the other community that was said to have allowed the strangers into the forest attacked them. That was how the violence started. It was that community against the whole clan of Biseni. That was on Thursday, 26th May, 2010. That is why you saw the road littered with broken bottles. Some properties were also destroyed, including houses. The thing is that, in Biseni families own land and, it will not be acceptable to us that a community will just wake up at decide to dispose of land belonging to the people. To make matter worse, the area of the land the strangers want to acquire is about 159 Hectares. This is not a mean thing. Please bear with us,  you will hear the details on the current situation after the clan meeting.”

Confirming the violent clash to ERA’s field monitor, Mr. Dollar said,
"I witnessed the clash at Biseni last Thursday. In fact I was trapped inside when I carried somebody to the community around 11:00 A.M that day. I couldn’t leave the environment again due to the violence that ended only after Mobile Police men were drafted to the place. It was the police that stopped the fight. They were throwing bottles at each other. They engaged in other violent actions that led to the destruction of some buildings.  Even after the battle had ended, it was not easy to get out of the community with my motor cycle due to the broken bottles on the road. It was so serious."

ERA’s field monitor witnessed some heaps of broken bottle along the road, especially at Egbebiri community axis. The roofs of few buildings were also noticed to have suffered attacks. Community youths were noticed discussing in clusters.
ERA demands:

  1. That the authorities should be proactive and take action to stop the brewing violence from escalating.
  2. The Bayelsa State Government should not wait until lives are lost and more property destroyed before taking action.
  3. All parties to the issue should be invited for frank talks on the matter, taking into consideration the communal land ownership structures of the clan, the livelihood and local needs of the people into consideration.
  4. The root cause of this crisis should be made public
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