Stop au pillage de la forêt de Cross River au Nigeria

En pleine forêt, trois bûcherons scient le tronc d’un arbre fraichement abattu Bûcherons illégaux à l’œuvre dans l’État de Cross River, au Nigéria (© Devcon)

Les dernières forêts tropicales du Nigeria abritent arbres géants, gorilles, chimpanzés et éléphants d’Afrique. Elles sont pourtant gravement menacées par le bûcheronnage illégal et la réalisation d’un nouveau chemin forestier. Autochtones et écologistes organisent la résistance et font appel au soutien international.

Appel

Au Président, au Ministre de l’Environnement et au Ministre de la Justice du Nigéria. Copie au Gouverneur de Cross River.

“Merci de mettre fin au bûcheronnage illégal et à la destruction des forêts tropicales de l’État de Cross River.”

Afficher la lettre de pétition

Les forêts tropicales de l’État de Cross River font partie des rares zones forestières subsistant au Nigéria. Elles subissent actuellement une nouvelle vague de destruction.

« Les forêts sont gravement menacées par les activités d’un cartel de bûcherons illégaux » rapporte Odey Oyama, le directeur exécutif du Rainforest Resources and Development Centre. Il a observé une "exploitation forestière effrénée", même à plusieurs kilomètres à l’intérieur de la jungle. La zone autour de la municipalité de Boki est "envahie de piles de troncs en attente d’être transportés". 

Chief Edwin Ogar déplore un "assaut de la plus grande ampleur" sur le territoire ancestral du peuple Ekuri. La société d’exploitation forestière Sibawood and Agriculture Nig Ltd est sur le point de déboiser 20 000 hectares d’une forêt à la riche biodiversité, sur la base d’un permis invalide datant de 1989. Les bulldozers ont déjà commencé à déblayer le terrain pour construire une route forestière

Le dirigeant indigène accuse le gouvernement de Cross River d’être complice de l’attaque des forêts. « Les droits traditionnels des Ekuri sur leur forêt ancestrale ont été traités avec mépris » 

Le gouvernement de Cross River nie tout acte répréhensible de sa part et se déclare simplement dans l’incapacité d’arrêter les "bûcherons criminels". Le gouverneur Ben Ayade a cependant la réputation de faire peu de cas de la protection de la nature. En 2016, il avait tenté d’ouvrir de grandes parties du parc national de Cross River et de la forêt communautaire des Ekuri à l’exploitation forestière par le biais d’un grand projet d’autoroute. Seule une résistance farouche avait permis d’empêcher sa réalisation.

Face à la menace croissante et existentielle qui pèse sur leurs forêts, 24 chefs et anciens des communautés Ekuri, dont Edwin Ogar et Abel Egbe, ont écrit une une lettre au président du Nigeria, Muhammad Buhari. 

N’ayant pas reçu la réaction présidentielle espérée, ils appellent aujourd’hui au soutien de la communauté internationale. Merci de signer notre pétition !

Contexte

Destinataires de la pétition

En plus de signer la pétition, il vous est possible de contacter directement ses destinataires :

  • M. Muhammadu Buhari, Président de la République Fédérale du Nigéria
  • M. Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar, Ministre de l’Environnement de la République Fédérale du Nigéria
  • M. Abubakar Malami, Ministre de la Justice de la République Fédérale du Nigéria
  • M. Ben Ayade, Gouverneur de l’État de Cross River

Ambassade du Nigéria 
173, avenue Victor Hugo 
75116 Paris
Tel : + 33 (0)1 47 04 68 65
Courriel ambassade : embassy@nigeriafrance.com
Courriel gouverneur Ayade : ayadeleon@gmail.com 


Lettre des Ekuri au président du Nigéria (4 mai 2021)

Ongoing Second Superhighway threatens Ekuri Community Forest: A Clarion Call to Halt Road Construction and Logging of Ekuri Forest.

Your Excellency Sir,

We write to you Sir on behalf of the indigenous people of Ekuri community found in Akamkpa Local Government Area in Cross River State of Nigeria, and owners of the 33,600ha Ekuri community forest, the largest and best communally managed forest in Nigeria. We have been applauded locally, nationally and internationally for demonstration of passion, commitments and efforts over the years in conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity that meets our daily livelihoods and benefiting present and future generations.

We thank you Mr. President that when the threats from the superhighway project in 2016 threatened Ekuri community forest and our existence, you came to our rescue that the superhighway be detoured from Ekuri forest. This you did because of the richness and iconic status of this forest which also contributes in meeting Nigeria’s commitments to international environmental agreements.

We wish to inform you that the threats to Ekuri community forest are not over as another superhighway specifically aimed at logging Ekuri community forest has been approved by the government of Cross River State through the Cross-River State Forestry Commission (CRSFC).

  1. On January 18, 2021, Detailingcrossriver, an online media, published a news story in which the Chairman of CRSFC, High Chief Tony Undiandeye ‘’pledged supports towards the completion of Iyamitet-New Ekuri road’’ and revalidation of illegal forest lease agreement between Sibawood Industry and Agriculture Nig. Ltd and New Ekuri village who jointly with Old Ekuri owns the Ekuri community forest.
  2. It will be recalled that in 1989, Sibawood secretly and illegally entered into a fraudulent agreement with few persons from New Ekuri to log 20,000ha Ekuri community forest without free and prior informed consent of both Ekuri villages who jointly owns the Ekuri community forest.
  3. When this fraudulent agreement entered on December 2, 1989 before incorporation of Sibawood on December 18, 1989 became public in 2004, Ekuri community mounted a stiff opposition against the lease which culminated into legal battle initiated by Ekuri community who obtained interlocutory injunction in 1996 against Sibawood which still subsist.
  4. After the online publication, we responded to the Chairman of CRSFC and physically submitted a protest letter opposing the road project and the revalidation of an illegal forest lease agreement which has also been overtaken by the interlocutory injunction; the 1994 cancellation of all forest concession agreements and the 2008 ban on logging respectively by government of Cross River State.
  5. As stated in the online publication, High Chief Undiandeye ‘’maintained that with the lapse in time, and the moratorium now in place, granting of concession will no longer be feasible.’’ He further noted ‘’that as a Commission with the mandate of ensuring the protection of the forest resources against environmental consequences and given the strategic relevance of the forest, technical staff of the Commission will go to the field for re-evaluation in order to be well guided in re-validating the approval earlier granted.’’ ‘’The Chairman commended the resilience of the community (that is Ekuri) and also admonished the company against breaching any of the re-validation processes’’. 
  6. ‘’Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary of the Commission, Mr. Timothy Akwaji reiterated that inventory carried out in 1995 cannot be put to use today because the scenarios are no longer the same. He lauded the community’s (Ekuri) conservation effort which he noted, has gained admiration of the international Community, adding that there should be a balance between conservation and development.’’
  7. Mr. President Sir, it is sad to inform you that the government of Cross River State through the Forestry Commission headed by High Chief Tony Undiandeye, has completed the re-validation of the 20,000ha illegal lease of Ekuri forest to Sibawood Industry & Agriculture Nig. Ltd to log against extant injunction and other government policies which the Commission is supposed to enforce but rather has abused them.
  8. Consequently, Sibawood have deployed bulldozers and commenced the construction of Iyamitet – New Ekuri road and have begun marking hundreds of trees in Ekuri forest for logging, threatening livelihoods, ecosystem services and mitigation of climate which this forest has been contributing to the wellbeing of Ekuri, Nigeria and the world at large.
  9. The customary rights of Ekuri community to her ancestral forestlands has been treated with contempt and impunity by the government of Cross River State as our Free Prior and Informed Consent were not sought and obtained right from conception, re-evaluation, revalidation and the approval.
  10. Furthermore, since 2019 till date, there have been intensified logging in Ekuri community forest at Old Ekuri axis by loggers headed by Hon. Felix Ikimo who is currently a Special Assistant to the Chairman of Akamkpa Local Government Area. The logging which consist of timber and round logs is an eyesore, worrisome and catastrophic as our petitions to the Governor of Cross River State and the Forestry Commission have yielded no positive responses. Even our local efforts have failed, rather, logging is still continuing as business as usual. Hon. Ikimo publicly and severally boasts that he will log that axis of the Ekuri community forest into extinction after all, he has the backing of the government of Cross River State which we believe because despite all our efforts, he is still logging unceasingly.
  11. The UNDRIP’s Article 29 1. States: ‘’Indigenous peoples have the right to the conservation and protection of the environment and the productive capacity of their lands or territories and resources. States shall establish and implement assistance programmes for indigenous peoples for such conservation and protection, without discrimination’’. However, the Cross-River State government has done the opposite wittingly to extinguish us and Ekuri community forest from mother earth.
  12. This action of the government of Cross River State against us is a violation of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention 169 of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP) which Nigeria is a signatory.
  13. It is also a violation of African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights that every member shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights, freedoms, recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without discrimination of any kind such as race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political, or any other opinion, national and social rights, fortune, birth or other status which Nigeria is founding member.
  14. Furthermore, it is a violation of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which guaranteed us the rights to life that we derived from our land, forest, resources and ecosystem services.
  15. Mr. President Sir, our humble prayer is to use your good office to stop this illegal revalidation of an illegal lease and end the current logging onslaught to destroy the famous Ekuri community forest which has promoted Nigeria’s image globally in terms of conservation, indigenous people’s involvement, livelihoods and climate change mitigation. Your intervention Sir, will save the rainforest of Ekuri community from being wipe away and posterity will applaud your exemplary commitments to better their lives,

Thank you, Mr. President Sir, and remain blessed.

Yours faithfully,

Lettre

Au Président, au Ministre de l’Environnement et au Ministre de la Justice du Nigéria. Copie au Gouverneur de Cross River.

Monsieur le Président,

Monsieur le Ministre,



l’État de Cross River abrite la moitié des forêts pluviales restantes du Nigeria et constitue l’un des points chauds de la biodiversité mondiale. Malheureusement, le bûcheronnage illégal est actuellement très répandu, et le gouvernement de Cross River semble couvrir les pilleurs. Cela a de graves conséquences pour la diversité biologique.

Cette situation fait que le Nigeria ne tient pas ses promesses de lutter contre la crise climatique en protégeant les forêts.

L’exploitation forestière généralisée et destructrice dans les forêts des Ekuri et d’autres communautés (community forests), en particulier l’abattage des arbres fruitiers et médicinaux pour le bois d’œuvre, appauvrit les populations autochtones et affecte leur santé et leur bien-être.

Cette dégradation des conditions de vie des populations autochtones va à l’encontre des trois premiers objectifs de développement durable des Nations unies : 1. pas de pauvreté, 2. faim "zéro" et 3. bonne santé et bien-être.

Nous vous exhortons en conséquence à soutenir :
- la protection des forêts tropicales à forte biodiversité de l’État de Cross River,
- la lutte contre l’exploitation forestière illégale et la dégradation de l’environnement,

- l’essor de la sylviculture communautaire (community forestry),
- la régénération des zones détruites pour restaurer les forêts.

Nous vous prions d’agréer, Monsieur le Président, Monsieur le Ministre, l’expression de notre profond respect.

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