Victory came the way of the Cross River forest, concerned communities and environmental activists on Wednesday, February 15 2017 as the state government announced the reversal of its order revoking ownership of land extending to 10km on either side of the proposed 260 km Superhighway.
In a press call in a national newspaper, the hitherto defiant state governor, Ben Ayade, appear to have succumbed to local and international pressures over the hugely controversial and unpopular road project.
The call, signed by the state Commissioner for Lands and Urban Development, Dr. John Inyang, on behalf of the government, reads: “After due consultation with relevant bodies and stakeholders, the Cross River State Government through the Ministry of Lands and Urban Development hereby reverses the earlier revocation order published in the Punch Newspaper edition of Friday, January 15, 2016 and the Nigerian Chronicle edition of Friday 22nd January, 2016 specifying the revocation of 10km span of either side of the centre line of the proposed 260km Superhighway road project.
“Accordingly, acquisition of right-of-way for the proposed road project and payment of compensation shall be limited to the 70m span of the road corridor.”
While environmental activist, Nnimmo Bassey, described the reversal as a “significant victory for Cross River forest communities”, government officials say it is rather a demonstration of the fact that Senator Ayade is a listening governor and is intended on removing all obstacles and making sure that the superhighway project is completed.”
Rita Iyke-Uwaka, an environmentalist, stated: “This is a great milestone for forest advocacy and community rights in Nigeria. Indeed, our collective rights and fights for environmental justice was not in vain! God bless great minds who fought night and day particularly Nnimmo Bassey for the great support he gave and great role he played directly and indirectly to make this happen.”