By Our Correspondent
In a move that will take many aback, the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) has dragged the Cross River State Government to the Federal High Court in Calabar seeking an order to stop any further construction work on the proposed 260km superhighway without carrying out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
NESREA’s Counsel, Bola Braimoh-Tokura, in a suit number FHC/CA/CS/38/2016 alleged that the respondents, Cross River State Government, Cross River State Infrastructure Company Limited and Broad River Construction Company, violated extant environmental laws including the NESREA (establishment) Act, 2007, among others by commencing the construction of the road without any EIA report.
The grounds for the Motion Ex Parte read in part, “The respondents commenced the project without duly following the Environmental Impact Assessment process, thereby destroying the ecosystem and seriously endangering the flora and fauna within the area.
“The respondents by their actions violated extant environmental laws, including the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (Establishment) Act, 2007, Environmental Impact Assessment Act Chap. E12 LFN 2004, and the National Environmental (Construction Sector) Regulations, S.I No. 19 of 2011.”
The State Coordinator of NESREA, Angela Iwobi who deposed to an affidavit in support of the Motion Ex Parte, noted that the agency had on February 17, 2016 written a letter to the Cross River State Commissioner for Works demanding for the Environmental Impact Statement of the project, but the respondent failed to respond.
“Based on failure to respond, the Minister wrote a letter on February 22 to Governor Ayade urging him to intervene, but further neglect prompted the Minister of Environment to issue stop-work-order on March 4.”
It will be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari did the ground breaking for the Super highway on October 20, 2015 and promised to return to commission the road when it is completed.
The ground breaking ceremony was postponed due to what stakeholders said was the absence of an environmental impact assessment for the project.
But the Minister of Environment, Aisha Mohammed, said last week that a provisional impact assessment was given just to allow Mr. President to do the scheduled ground breaking and after then, the state government has failed to follow the due process and conduct the EIA leading to stoppage of work on the project.
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