There have been allegations that there are powerful illegal wood loggers with armed militias who intimidate locals and aid them to perpetuate the illicit plundering of the forests in Cross River State.
A group, We The People, re-echoed this allegation once more in Calabar at a workshop with the theme: “Multi-Stakeholders Conference on Deforestation in Cross River State”.
The one-day conference stood against illegal logging and called on authorities to delve into the activities of the militia and their paymasters.
According to a 37-point communique signed by he group’s Executive Director, Ken Henshaw, the Chairman, Non-Governmental Coalition for Environment (NGOCE), Dr. Odigha Odigha, and others, also noted that “Illegal logging has introduced a new phase of the security challenge, disclosing that perpetrators now go about their illicit trade fully armed, to resist every effort to stop them by state or non-state gatekeepers.
They alleged that “a significant area of the Cross River rain and mangrove forest has been depleted due to illicit or uncontrolled logging aided by armed thugs.
The group lamented that the antideforestation committee recently inaugurated by the state governor is made up of big-time timber dealers who would compromise.
They cited the recent arrest and impoundment of 32 trucks in Yala LGA of the state laden with logs on their way out of the state, insisting the committee be disbanded.
The group warned that the existing legal instruments on forest management is neither strong nor adequate to protect and conserve the forest, thereby exposing it to persistent degradation.
“Communal armed conflict in some areas have further hampered conservation efforts,” they claimed
They called for an urgent need to develop and implement a comprehensive plan to effectively manage the forest and eliminate deforestation.