CRS FORESTRY COMMISSION MOVES TO RESOLVE COMMUNAL DISPUTE OVER OWNERSHIP OF LAFARGE LEASE AREA
In support of the State Governor’s moves to secure peace in Cross River, Chairman, Forestry Commission, Chief Tony Undiandeye is leading the Commission to wade into the lingering contentions emanating from some communities in Akamkpa, over the Corporate Social Responsibility of the LAFARGE Africa PLC, a multi-national consortium operating in Cross River State.
In a peace meeting with people from the affected communities, the Chairman, while assuring them of the
Commission’s readiness to ensure that accurate geolocation be carried out based on existing coordinates to ascertain the host communities and possibly, determine the equity contribution of each of the landlord communities within the LAFARGE operational area, admonished them to continue to live in peace and harmony, particularly, that they have lived as brothers over a life time and shared everything in common.
He maintained that the contention can only be resolved in the field, where the boundaries can be clearly defined, and as such, urged all the parties concern to remain peaceful in cooperation and understanding with genuine intentions. In his remarks, Permanent Secretary of the Commission, Mr. Timothy O. Akwaji, said that the boundary tracing would be carried out by a government agency that has the interest of the communities concern at heart and not one that will cause further friction amongst brothers who have co-existed for centuries. He thanked the community
people concerned and other stakeholders, for the resolve that they have taken so far to ensure that the issue is tackled amicably and in oneness.
Responding, two prominent sons of the communities, Prince Celestine Anor from Ekong Anaku and Sir Don Etta of Mbobui, expressed their gratitude and confidence in the leadership Of the Commission for the genuine efforts that they have made so far, in ensuring that all parties concern are given sense of belonging, while hoping that general consensus would be reached at the end of the Commission’s intervention.
It could be recalled that the communities which are within the Ekinta Forest Reserve and Oban Group of Forest Reserve, being the location lease area of LAFARGE Africa, manufacturers of UNICEM cement, have been embroiled in a longstanding controversy with each of the communities claiming rightful landlord status, with deserving benefits. As a Commission supretending over the two Reserve areas, Cross River Forestry Commission is wadding into the problems to help find lasting solution to the immediate and remote cause, using the stakeholders’ meeting
approach, as a precursor to further intimate communities concerned, of government’s plan towards peaceful resolution of such contentions.
The communities include, Abiati, Mfamosing, Ikot Inameti, Ikot Oyomene and Akwa Ikot Efangha and Camp 2,
While the geo-location is at the instance of LAFARGE Africa Plc, the multinational cement consortium, operating in Cross River State.
TIMBER DEALERS CAUTIONED AGAINST ILLEGAL LOGGING IN C’RIVER
Timber dealers in the State have been warned against illegal logging which has caused serious deforestation despite ban on such activities in the State. Cross River State Forestry Commission Chairman, Chief Tony Undiandeye, who gave the warning during a working visit to timber markets within Calabar Municipality, also sensitized them on the
dangers of indiscriminate forest exploitation, noting that it destroys trees that act as carbon sinks and climate
regulators which play significant role in Climate change mitigation. The Chairman further stated that the practice also accounts for the reduction of forest cover area, leading to high temperature and extreme weather conditions
which affect all and sundry. Chief Undiandeye tasked the heads of the various markets to welcome and support government’s forest regeneration drive in order to regain the lost forests in the State.
Reacting to their concerns, the Chairman assured that the Commission is working assiduously to ensure that their livelihood is sustained and their businesses regularized to also enable them contribute to the economic development of the State. The Commission Boss called on the timber dealers as critical partners in the sector to act responsibly by
obeying government policy, stop patronizing enemies of the State who are bent on destroying our rich forest resources.
Pledging the association’s continuous support, the Presidents, Akim, Ikot Uduak, and Ikot Omin Timber Markets, Asuquo Ita, Ebane Ewot and Edet Bassey respectively, expressed appreciation to the Chairman for his leadership style, noting that his visit to their markets would not be taken for granted. The Market heads separately dissociated the associations from being part of the illegal forest activities in the State, hinting that their businesses have been
hijacked by heavily sponsored field marshals and some government officials who are abusing power and taking advantage of the ban on logging to enrich their pockets at the expense of the Cross River Government.
They also argued that timber dealers are not major drivers of deforestation but farmers who carry out unsustainable agricultural practices of cutting and burning down of the forest for cultivation. Some members of the association lamented the loss of their livelihood and cried out to government to ameliorate their sufferings by lifting the ban in order for them to carry out their legitimate businesses.