Calitown.com investigations have revealed that attempts by the Cross River State Government, several concerned individuals and groups to protect her vast forest reserves may be an exercise in futility considering the several layers of negative human actions geared towards the exploitation of these forest resources.
Specifically, the investigation has identified a Wood Mafia operating within the 4,227 sq.km Cross River National Park and the adjacent Korup National Park in Cameroun. The mafia, exports illegally felled timber, using the cover of darkness to ferry the timber in massive floating rafts and guided through the Cross River to the Ebonyi State banks of the river where the timber is then loaded into several waiting trucks and sold.
While the Cross River State Anti-Deforestation Task Force may be in place to check the activities of the mafia, investigations have further revealed that corruption on the part of high ranking officials and the sophistication of the mafia are combining to perpetrate this illegal business. In a move typical of the operations of the mafia, calitown.com discovered that several trucks with the worthless Gossweldodendrom Balsmiferon, known in local parlance as ‘Akpu Mbeke’, were loaded with the clear intention of having the trucks intercepted by operatives of the task force. While this was taking place, several other trucks of first class wood (Ebony, Mahogany, Achi, Mimosops) made their way through alternative routes into the waiting hands of pre-arranged buyers who dispose of the wood in record time.
One source informed in the course of the investigation that ‘conservationist’ and Chairman of the Task Force, one Peter Jenkins, may not be free of the Wood Mafia’s penetrating influence as the source insists that very little has been done by the chairman to discourage the activities of the group, deep in the forests of Boki and Etung, worst hit by these activities. Again, the source was resolute in pointing out that a few questions need to be answered, especially as it concerns the close to N150m worth of timber impounded and sold and how only a paltry N40m of the sum was remitted to government coffers.
Another source encouraged calitown.com to go into certain statistics and see the level of rot in the system. For instance the source said, “…how many people caught in illegal logging have been prosecuted? These people just pay money and walk only to return to the forests and wreck more havoc”. He continues, “ can the task force account for the quantity of wood seized? We cannot truly say we want to protect our biodiversity hotspot and yet refuse to arrest the activities of this conglomerate of government officials and illegal loggers working in tandem and ripping our forests bare”, he concluded.
It was impossible at press time to speak with Peter Jenkins, the task force chairman while most government officials contacted declined any comments.
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