By Akanimo Sampson
CONCERNS are still growing around environmental rights advocacy circles in the world, as bulldozers are tearing down forest communities mercilessly in Cross River, a hitherto pro-green state in Southern Nigeria.
Being reduced to rubles are forest communities in Akpabuyo and Bakassi Local Government Areas of the state. Communities in these ares are crying out over the wanton destruction of their ancestral properties and economic trees estate for ‘SUPER HIGHWAY’ by Cross River State Government.
Edem Edem of the Green Code for Development (GREENCODE), an environmental rights group says over 20 communities in Akpabuyo and Bakassi are already counting their loses over what they termed as gross violation of their fundamental human rights.
According to them, ”the mobilisation of the bulldozers by the Ben Ayade-led Government of Cross River state into the hinterlands of Akpabuyo and Bakassi has left untold hardship on the community people. The affected communities are on the Esighi, Atimbo-East and Edem Odo flank of the local government area. The bulldozers have destroyed over 20,000 stands of healthy palm trees including other economic trees, grave yards and community forests and sources of water.
”The untold hardship and gross violation is coming at the time the country and its citizens are experiencing some economic hard times”.
In the mean time, the people are demanding as follows:
1. That Cross River State Government halts the destruction immediately in line with the Stop Work Order issued by the Federal Ministry of Environment on 11 March 2016.
2. Immediately STOP the BULLDOZERS from destroying our heritage, grave yards and artefacts in the name of SUPER-HIGHWAY project.
3. That the CRSG conducts a transparent and participatory Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the Super Highway Project
4. That the Super Highway project should not traverse our forests and farmlands with consultations and prior informed consent as required by law and by convention.