Security Agencies join hands to enforce forestry regulations in C'River

By Blessing Enagu, CRS-MOI Officer reporting from Ministry of Climate Change and Forestry

Security heads have expressed readiness and cooperation towards the success of the statewide declaration and compoundment exercise by the Forestry sub sector.

This was achieved when the Commissioner for Climate Change and Forestry, Ntufam Donatus Etim led other Heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies within the cluster on a visit to respective Service Chiefs in their offices recently in Calabar to seek security support for the compoundment exercise.

Commending their effort in combating crime, especially the kidnapping menace which has become monstrous in our society, Ntufam Etim added that it was necessary to sanitize the forestry sub-sector and rid it off illegalities, a situation, he maintained, can be well accomplished through joint efforts of the security agencies.

Pledging State government support for the security outfits, the newly appointed Chairman of the Cross River State Forestry Commission, Chief Tony Udiandeye, assured that government will continue to partner them, not only in areas of forestry, but in improving the security architecture to enhance the security of lives and properties in the state.

The Chairman averred that Governor Ayade is managing the State with lean resources and however assured that the concerns raised by the security personnel would be addressed by government.

Also baring their minds, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Forestry, Biodiversity and Conservation, Ntufam Edet  Okon Asim and Special Adviser to the Governor on Afforestation, Hon. Bette Obi sued for a sustained and result- oriented  relationship.

They expressed displeasure on the impact of climate change, noting degenerating  watersheds, diminishing rivers and streams and high thermal effect of the environment because of unwholesome environmental practices in the State.

Earlier in his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Climate Change and Forestry, Timothy Akwaji restated that Cross River holds over 50% of the remaining tropical rain forest in Nigeria and is the richest in terms of biodiversity, adding that the State is one of the 25 biodiversity hotspots in Nigeria.

He informed that the State has been battling with high rate of deforestation which has prompted the leadership of Governor Ayade to ensure that the status quo is maintained by planting millions of trees every year to replenish the degraded stock.

“we are facing the worst times as far as climate change is concerned. The weather condition is extreme because we have lost a lot of sequestration agent which are basically trees. Government is leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that that the forests are protected,” he added.

Mr Akwaji pointed out that a lot of people have entered the forests illegally and had sawn woods and the illicitly sawn woods find their ways illegally  into timber markets.

He stated that Cross River supplies timber to the neighboring States through illegal means and the Government gets nothing in return.

According to him, the exercise is like a plea bargain for those who have already sawn illegally and it is intended to clean the rust in the system in order for appropriate recommendation on a more sustainable forest management approach in the State.

Responding, the Commander, 13 Brigade Nigerian Army, Brigadier General OT Olatoye pledged support to the course, noting that the Army has a duty to provide aids to civil authority.

Frowning at the menace in the Forestry sector, General Olatoye appealed that the taskforce on anti-deforestation should be streamlined because many persons were operating in disguise of the taskforce.

He highlighted some challenges that have hitherto affected their engagements with the State Government and called for redress for an effective relationship.

In the same vein, the Commissioner of Police, Cross River State Command, CP Nkereuwem Akpan assured of his Command's readiness at all times. He added that a blank letter for all Divisional Police Officers would be issued to the team for easy access at any given time.

Highpoints of the visits were photo sessions and presentation of a plaque and other souvenirs to the Climate Change and Forestry  Commissioner, Ntufam Donatus  Etim by the Brigadier General OT Olatoye.

Also in the delegation were the special Adviser to the Governor on Agricultural Projects and a one time member of the Anti-deforestation Task Force, Akuku Achilles, Mr. Ubleble John, who represented the Director-General, Due Process and Price Intelligence Bureau, Alphonsus Ogar Eba and Senior Directors of the Forestry cluster.

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