Just In: Expert Threatens to Drag Cross River Forestry Boss to EFCC, ICPC

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An expert in forestry and conservation activism, Odey Oyama, has threatened to drag the Chairman of the Cross River State Forestry Commission, Tony Undiandeye, before the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) if he fails to take action on a reported case of illegal conveyance of timber.

He issued the threat in a letter addressed to the state governor which was also copied to the Inspector General of Police, the Chairman himself, the Secretary to State Government and other critical stakeholders, drawing attention to the wanton plundering of Cross River forests.

There have continued to be massive deforestation activities in the vast forests of Cross River by persons and groups suspected to be very powerful despite public outcry.

Over a month ago, the state governor, Prof Ben Ayade, issued a marching order to illegal wood loggers, threatening to descend heavily against them and to use some as examples and a deterrent to others.

Odey Oyama said by dragging the forestry chairman before the anti-graft agencies, Governor Ayade will be portrayed in a bad light to the nation and the international community.

According to him, he has drawn the attention of Ayade to the matter several times.

“It is the governor’s statutory duty to direct or query Tony accordingly. Sadly, he has also refused to take prompt and appropriate action to address the situation,” he said.

Part of the letter to both the governor and forestry chairman read, “We write to draw your attention to a trailer load of what is reasonably suspected to be illegal timber.

“The said trailer containing the product has just broken down by the former WEMPCO wood factory located close to the Ikom bridge when driving towards Okuni community from Ikom.

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“Please despatch the Forestry Commission Enforcement Officers to make arrest and compound offense and/or prosecute offenders in accordance with the Cross River State Forestry laws & regulations; and other extant laws related therewith.”

Oyama who is executive director of Rainforests Resources and Development Centre, said they were acting in compliance with Part II, Section 100 of the Forestry Commission Law 2011.

He also disclosed that their undercover agents have been monitoring the situation and reporting accordingly, remarking that the Forestry Commission Enforcement officers have not acted to save the forests.

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