By Our Correspondent
It took the quick intervention of the Special Adviser, Governor’s Office, Mr. Ken Aklah to avert a scheduled protest by the Timber Dealers Association of Cross River State, who vowed that they were ready to stake their lives to resist the attempt by Governor Ayade to create a new anti-logging/deforestation task force.
The Special Assistant to the Governor on Social Media, Eval Asikong had told CrossRiverWatch that members of the timber dealers union had contacted him to complain about how they had suffered in the hands of the previous task force which was disbanded by the governor on assumption of office.
According to him, “They said after wood-logging was banned, it brought untold hardship on them and their families. That when the previous task force was disbanded by the present administration, they were happy and heaved sighs of relief. Things in the timber business returned to normalcy until another perceived monster was created lately which made them vow to resist with all vehemence.
“One of the members even vowed that even if it will cost us our blood, we are going to make sure we resist the new Anti-deforestation Task Force. Some of our members are still in prison, courtesy of the last task force and the governor dare to create another? We shall distort their operations, we shall burn their vehicles, we shall confront them…….”
CrossRiverWatch gathered that on getting information about the planned protest, the S.A. Governor’s Office, Ken Aklah, rushed back to Calabar from an event in Abuja where he was representing his boss who is out of the country, to Calabar to engage the association and avert impending trouble.
A meeting was then called at the State Executive Chambers of the Governor’s Office on Tuesday, 3rd November, 2015 where the timber dealers enumerated their concerns and made demands which the government must meet or leave them to face their fate with members of the task force in the forest.
The association demanded that government should bury the thought of creating another anti logging/deforestation task force. They also demanded government to make efforts to release some of their members who are still in prison after they were arrested by the disbanded taskforce. The association members also frowned at what they described as government taking decisions that affect their lives and business without getting their inputs.
Ken Aklah, who stood in for government cleared the air by informing them that the ban on logging applies only to those loggers who do not have permit to log.
According to Aklah, the governor, rather wants old trees to be cut down and new trees planted. He disclosed that banning of wood logging is not included in the task force’s terms of reference.
He further asked them to make available the names of their members who are still in prison and promised to communicate their concerns to the Governor as soon as possible while encourage to remain law abiding in the discharge of their duties.
The meeting also had in attendance, Hon. Nehemiah, Special Assistant to the Governor on Legal Matters, Mr. Eval Asikong, Personal Assistant to the Governor on Social Media.
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