Cross River Raises Alarm Over Illegal Mining, Invasion Of Park By Foreigners

Cross River Raises Alarm Over Illegal Mining, Invasion Of Park By Foreigners

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The Cross River State government has raised the alarm over what it described as massive illegal mining activities at the state’s National Park by foreigners purported to be nationals of Chad and Niger Republic.

 

Chairman, Cross River State Forestry Commission, Dr. George Oben-Etchi stated this while answering questions from conservationists during a roundtable with stakeholders at the Transcorp Hotel on Thursday in Calabar.

 

Oben-Etchi said 80 percent of the state forest reserve is being depleted by foreigners who have been trooping into the state to engage in illegal mining.

 

At a one-day workshop organised by an environmental protection organisation “We The People”, with the theme: Fostering Strategies and Partnerships for Forest Protection in Cross River,” the group also advocated stakeholders’ intervention to prevent the destruction of the forest from climate change.

 

The Commission’s chairman maintained that these foreign nationals, in conjunction with Nigerians from Northern parts of the country were perpetrators of ongoing illegal mining of precious stones and wood logging at the national park.

 

He disclosed that the miners are heavily armed to the extent that they intimidate citizens of the local communities in Akamkpa local government area which has become a hotbed for illegal mining activities in recent times.

 

Oben-Etchi maintained that at different occasions, the armed miners collaborate with some local youths from the community to overpower security agents who dare to chase them from the mining sites.

 

“These foreigners are heavily armed with far more sophisticated armaments.

 

“I remember when we moved with armed security men to dislodge them, it was our state security officials that advised us not to move further because they had superior firepower,” the Chairman said.

 

A conservator at the National Park, Rebecca Ikpeme, also decried the invasion of the protected areas in the state by strange elements whose nativity she noted yet to be known.

 

“The illegal miners don’t have traceable identities. They are armed. Several times we have arrested some of them but ‘some Alhajis’ would intervene and get them released. Illegal mining is a big problem because the miners would come with official licenses,” Ikpeme lamented.

 

 

The Executive Director, “We the People,” Mr. Ken Henshaw, stated that his organisation in collaboration with other Civil Society Organisations are not happy with the state of illegal mining and wood-logging in the state.

 

“Cross River state is experiencing the fastest spate of forest loss globally. Apart from logging, other factors including the expansion of commercial plantations have been highly complicit in forest loss. The impacts have been overwhelming.

 

“The climate change mitigating the capacity of Cross River State have been significantly reduced, the wildlife population has reduced on account of forest loss and the state has lost vast opportunities in conservation-related economic activities,” Henshaw lamented.

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