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Illegal mining, logging by business tycoon spark uproar in Cross River

The activities of an Enugu-based business tycoon, Chief Henry Okechukwu, have caused an uproar in the community of Bendeghe-Affi in Ikom Local Government Area of Cross River State as over 100 youths take to the street.

The activities of Okechukwu, CONVERSEER gathered include illegal exploitation of iron ore and timber logging from the community forest, causing the youths to stage a peaceful demonstration.

During the peaceful protest on Wednesday, the aggrieved youths who carried placards with different inscriptions chanted songs which sounded as if they were about to go to war.

Some of the inscriptions on the placards read: “We disagree with illegal stone mining of any form”, “Chief Henry stop logging and mining of solid minerals of any form in Bendeghe-Affi”, “Timber logging and mining would amount to destruction of our cocoa farms”, “One ton of cocoa is N3m whereas a ton of iron ore is N10,000,000, steer clear from our land”, “Cocoa remains mainstay of our economy,” among others.

The group spokesperson, Comrade David Obi-Akong, while addressing the youths at Chief Hillary Ndoma’s residence in Bendeghe-Affi, said, “Our chief, Chief Victor Tangban, told us that he has taken off his hands from anything that concerns mining and that our community elders had also removed their hands from anything related to stone exploitation in our land.

“Having come to a realisation that cocoa is more valuable than iron ore, as a people of Abanko-Olokpo, we have taken our decision against stone exploitation of any kind in our community.

“Anyone who had soiled his or her hands by collecting money from Chief Henry Okechuwu to pave the way for illegal mining or timber logging does so at his peril. Don’t destroy our cocoa farms in the name of mining or logging.

“We thank God that a senior chief for our two villages of Abanko-Olokpo, Chief Victor Tangban has told us that his hands are clean regarding controversial mining and logging issues.

“This is why we are using this rare privilege to ask Chief Henry Okechuckwu, not to come close to our forest to destroy our common heritage which is cocoa and forest.”

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Reacting to the protest against him, Chief Okechuckwu said that the allegations are lies generated from the pit of hell, adding “This is wickedness, I created that access road into the community.

“I constructed the Opu-Batip bridge to link the Bendeghe-Affi-Opu road, which enabled me to lift mining equipment to the mining sites in 2018.

“They are talking about timber logging, I am not interested in logging, I am interested in mining which I genuinely obtained a licence from the Federal Government to commence mining in the community. Ask them if I have ever taken a piece of wood from their community. I cannot invest hundreds of millions to construct a bridge and suddenly I am told not to kick-start my mining business.”

Frank Ulom
Frank Ulom
Frank Ulom is an experienced Journalist, Blogger and Writer with several years of experience. His stories are based on community development and have brought positive change across board.

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