Group petition two clan heads, others over illegal sales of Government reserved forest area in Cross River
By Our Admin
A Civil Society group in Cross River State operating under the name, Citizen Against Crime and Corruption CACC has written to the State Governor, Senator Bassey Otu exposing identity of some officials of the State Forestry Commission and Clan heads who are deeply involved in the illegal logging business and depleting the state forest reserve without any revenue returns to the state.
The group in a letter addressed to the Governor dated October 9, 2023 also alleged that the life of some of her officials are under threat after some officials of government got wing of their extensive work and facts gathered over the years to curb illegal logging.
The letter to the Governor, signed by the Director /Chief Executive Officer of CACC, Mr. Jon Lovety Ok appealed that the Special Adviser on Forestry as well as the Director of Conservation in the Forestry commission be called to question over suspicious activities and dealings which they have evidences to testify on before the governor if given the opportunity.
According to their letter “The Director of Conservation, Forestry commission Mr. Frank Edu has been working in collaboration with illegal timbers/loggers putting, himself in a position where personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities in contravention of Forestry Commission Law 2010.”
“An illegal logger constructed an access road from Agoi Ekpo protected area to New Ekuri through Ukpon River Forest – Reserved Area, with three caterpillars and trucks logging, the operators of these caterpillars were arrested by Ekuri people.”
“There are much illegal timbers/logs in the following communities Forests, Okokori, Iko Esai, Owai, Agoi Ekpo, Agoi Ibami, Ifumkpa and Old/New Ekuri, including Boki Local Government Area, and even now, illegal timber/logging is going on”.
The letter also alleged that “the Clan heads of Esai and Owai connived together and sold large protected Forest jointly owned by their communities at the Sum of Two Hundred and Fifty Million Naira (N250,000,000.00) to a company and had received part payment of One Hundred Million Naira (N100,000,000.00) without the consent or knowledge of their communities, but Mr. Frank Edu is aware of this.”
They assured that the CACC has more information with pictures and videos as prove, and it is important to state here that this information has been given to EFCC Abuja, and at the moment, the matter has been referred to IGP monitoring unit in Abuja, and this monitoring unit is investigating this report.
They called on the Governor to setup a committee to look into their report assuring that they are ready to hand-over all the documents, pictures and video, including photocopies of EFCC invitation if need be.
Responding to the allegations and claims made by the CACC, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Forestry, Mr. Cletus Ugbizi confirmed having heard of some clan heads selling government reserved areas in their community and said that verification was on and no person found wanting will go unpunished.
He disclosed that the present governor inherited the problem of illegal logging but in his wisdom, eight weeks was given for the evacuation of all illegally logged wood from the forest. That eight weeks expired last week, he said, adding that soon loggers will be registered legally by government so that regeneration and planting will be done after every logging.