From Judex Okoro, Calabar
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate for Cross River, Senator Sandy Onor, has decried the on-going massive deforestation of state tropical rain forests.
Onor epressed dismay at the impunity displayed by these illegal loggers and the syndicates who are, on daily basis, depleting the rich forest endowments of state with alleged tacit support of government agencies.
Speaking at a Town Hall meeting convened by stakeholders from the central senatorial district to formally endorsed his candidature, Sen. Sandy Onor who is also the Senator for Cross River Central, said it has become imperative to checkmate the nefarious activities of timber merchants who have invaded almost all the forests in Akamkpa, Obubra, Etung, Ikom amd Boki communities engaging in all forms of illegal logging activities even when government of the day claims there is a law against logging in the state.
According to him, these timber merchants with their state collaborators, have hugely depleted the Cross River forest once regarded as the richest tropical rain forest in the world.
He said: “It’s terrible and disappointing that under the watch of Governor Ben Ayade, who brandished himself as an acclaimed environmentalist, our tropical forest which harbours some unique endangered species like gorillas,
chimpanzees, lions and elephants is now the commercial nerve center for illegal timber transactions.
“Our rare timber products are now being sewed into logs and exported with alleged full complicity of the governor’s cronies who share the loot on daily basis.
“The standard we set for the State Forestry Commission and the task force units to guarantee sustainable exploration, which attracted global supports, have been debased.
“The commission has now become an avenue for allegwedly empowering Ayade’s boys for their loyalty and commitment in readiness for the forthcoming elections through illegal logging pastime. Our forest is now bleeding, while they erect monumental edifices or smiles to the banks.We are aware”
The governorship candidate called on the royal fathers in the state to urgently mobilize their subjects towards safeguarding the remnants of the hitherto rich forest endowments of state from ongoing massive deforestation.
In his remarks, a spokesman of the royal fathers comprising village and clan heads from the six local government councils in the Central Senatorial District, His Royal Highness Ntoe Boniface Ndoma, also decried the illegal activities going on in the forests, appealing for government intervention.
Ndoma lamented the humiliating and agonising treatment being meted out to them by officials of the state government under the present dispensation, adding that over 50 of them, duly certificated by government since 2016, are yet to be payrolled for the paltry monthly sum of N7, 000 stipend even as they been subjected to numerous personnel audits exercises.