The Okuni forest community in Ikom Local Government Area of Cross River State has vowed to demand adequate compensation for the massive destruction of its vast forests in recent times.
They also stressed that they will rise to challenge the so-called green bandits, which allegedly have some backing from powerful persons, in the court of law.
In a statement signed by its spokesman, Odey Oyama of Forest Resources and Development Centre, they said, “We will ask for compensation from the state that is statutorily responsible for the protection and conservation of the resources in the first instance.
“We will equally seek a redress in a court of competent jurisdiction for the prosecution of persons acting in connivance with the green bandits to deplete our resources, property and God given heritage.
“The forest in Okuni community is under severe threat of extinction. It is being wantonly destroyed by forest bandits with the tacit approval of the Forestry Commission. We, the communal resource owners, will definitely rise up to the challenge”.
Two weeks ago, Governor Benedict Ayade vowed to punish his appointees and other government officials alleged to be involved in illegal wood logging in parts of the vast forest reserves in the state.
He also said that all others involved in illegal wood logging are going to face hard times.
According to the governor, he was sending the final warning and will no longer fold his hands and watch the Forest reserves depleted for selfish reasons.
He lamented that the nefarious activities of illegal wood loggers have led to progressive depletion of forest bearing in the state.
“I am sending a note of final warning that I cannot watch the complete degeneration of our forest as we see illegal logging becoming the order of the day.
“From today, anybody caught with illegal wood, your vehicle, the driver, the occupants of that vehicle, the destination of the stolen wood, the government official who is colluding, or the security operatives who are colluding or the forest guards who are colluding, will be picked up and dealt decisively with. We will ensure that we involve the entire global community to sit and watch and monitor your prosecution to ensure that justice is done”, he said.