Cross River State Governor, Prince Bassey Otu has promised rough times for perpetrators of illegal logging and other destructive environmental activities in the state
He warned that the government will no longer tolerate and treat with kid gloves those deliberately wreaking havoc and displaying unfriendly disposition towards sustainable socio-economic growth and development of the state.
Governor Otu read the riot act during an on-the-spot-inspection of 32 trucks loaded with illegal timber at the border community with Ebonyi State.
Represented by his Chief of Staff, Hon. Emmanuel Ironbar at the scene of the seized trucks at Ijiraga in Yala Local Government, the Governor urged all illegal loggers to immediately utilise
the window of opportunity offered by the government to regularise their operations in the state.
Condemning the devastation on the State’s rich biodiversity by the criminal logging in its forest reserves, Governor Otu warned that there will be no hiding place for offenders as the government is determined to ensure they face the full wrath of the law for their crimes against Cross River and its peace-loving people.
He said impounding the 32 trucks with illegal forest products clearly demonstrates his administration’s resolve to match words with action, and praised the anti-deforestation Committee for their prompt and result-oriented actions.
Similarly, the Governor urged all forest bearing communities to assist the government by providing vital information to relevant agencies while also refraining from aiding and abetting illegal loggers as well as wildlife poachers and smugglers.
A statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Emmanuel Ogbeche, also indicated the governor ordered owners of all the seized trucks with illegal sawn timber/logs to report to the Office of the Permanent Secretary, Cross River State Forestry Commission, within 7-days for necessary documentation and eventual release of their trucks.
According to the statement, failure to adhere to this directive will lead to final confiscation and auctioning of the impounded trucks and timbers.
In a related development, the immediate past Chairman, Anti-Deforestation Task Force (North), Governor’s Office, Calabar, Chief Asegem Emmanuel, has been commended for his role in impounding the 32 trucks in line with government directives and warnings to illegal lodgers to desist from exploiting the state through the Ebonyi borders.
Eyewitnesses and a cross section of Ijiraga residents at the incident scene lauded the intervention of Ambassador Asegem through a sting operation in the area, noting that the action would serve as a deterrent to would-be culprits.
One of the residents volunteered to Forefront News thus; “We commend Chief Asegem Emmanuel who is the Chairman of Ijiraga Community and has always acted in our own interest as a selfless leader.
“Adhering to instructions by the Chief of Staff to the Governor of Cross River State to arrest any illegal woods has manifested in the impoundment of 32 trucks”.
Meanwhile, the Governor’s Chief of Staff visit to the impoundment scene may have laid to rest claims by some online news bloggers that Chief Asegem acted in pursuit of his personal agenda.