Youths Protest Alleged Illegal Mining, Timber Logging By Businessman In Cross River  

Youths Protest Alleged Illegal Mining, Timber Logging By Businessman In Cross River  

Youths from Bendeghe Affi community in Ikom local government area of Cross River State on Wednesday protested an alleged move by an Enugu-based businessman Chief Henry Okechuku, to commence exploitation of iron ore and timber logging in the community.

The aggrieved youths carried placards chanting protest songs with inscriptions such as, “We disagree with illegal stone mining of any form. Chief Henry stop logging and mining of solid minerals of any form in Bendeghe Affi.”

Other inscriptions include, “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, 00, steer clear from our land. Cocoa remains mainstay of our economy.”

The protesters’ spokesperson, Comrade David Obi-Akong, at the residence of a community leader, Chief Hillary Ndoma said, “Chief Victor Tangban told us that he has taken off his hands from anything that concerns mining. And that our community elders have also removed their hands from anything related to stone exploitation in our land having come to realisation that cocoa is 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 has soiled his or her hands by collecting money from Chief Henry Okechuwu to pave 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.

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

But in swift reaction to the protest and allegations leveled against him and his firm, Okechuckwu described the allegations as lies generated from the pit of hell, saying, “This is wickedness, I created that access road into the community. I constructed Opu-Batip Bridge to link Bendeghe Affi –Opu Road that enable me to lift mining equipment to the mining sites in 2018.”

Continuing, he denied interest in timber logging while admitting his interest in mining “which I genuinely obtained a incense from 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 told not to kick-start my mining business,” Okechuckwu said.

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