By Aplefe Ojong
The Governor of Cross River State, Senator Ben Ayade has ordered that investigation should be immediately carried out, and possible prosecution of the Chairman and members of the State Forestry Commission Board as well as the Anti-deforestation Taskforce.
A press release made available to CrossRiverWatch and signed by the Secretary to the Cross River state government, Barr. Tina Agbor indicates that the governor, Senator Professor Ayade gave the order after his meeting with the members of the commission and the taskforce.
The statement further revealed that the governor wants the Commission and the members of the taskforce on anti-deforestation to give explanation to Cross Riverians how the forest resources of the state that were left in their care have been badly managed and rapidly depleted.
Titled, “Ayade Orders Investigation of Forestry Commission Board and Taskforce Members” and dated June 4, 2015, stated thus; “Cross River State Governor, Senator Professor Ben Ayade Has ordered immediate investigation and possible prosecution of the Chairman and members of the State Forestry Commission Board and the Anti-deforestation Taskforce”.
It could be recalled that the governor had early disbanded the Commission on Monday June 1, 2015, in a move which many Cross Riverians had believed was not unconnected with massive fraud and corruption.
In a separate interview with CrossRiverWatch some timber dealers from Akim market, Akai Effa ,Edibe Edibe had expressed joy over the decision of the governor to dissolve the Task force which they described as a hydra headed monster used by some nefarious elements to defraud unsuspecting businessmen.
A dealer who gave his name as Mr. Asuquo Eyo disclosed that he had lost so much to the taskforce and was happy that Ayade did what he did.
“They have been using the task Force as their personal business. When they arrest you they sell the timber without following due process, even if you have the necessary documents they still confiscate your timber illegally and that has been happening since 2009 and they do it with impunity”.
At Akai Effa market, a timber dealer, Mr. Victor Bassey told CrossRiverWatch that he has been rendered wretched because of the unwholesome practices of members of the disbanded task force.
“I had to start from the scratch because of what they took from me, I lost everything to their fraudulent activities with fake receipts, extortion, bribery among other things they did to me”.
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