A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Rainforest Resources and Development Centre (RRDC) has raised the alarm over the alleged sale/lease of the Oban Hills Division of the Cross River National Park in Akamkpa Local Government Area of the state to an Indian oil exploration and energy production firm, Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Production Company Limited (SEEPCO).
The Executive Director of RRDC, Prince Odey Oyama disclosed this at weekend to some newsmen in Calabar in a petition stating that the park was sold or leased to the Indian firm for conservation of elephants which the organisation perceived to be strange.
The environmental organisation disclosed that the alleged activities were signed in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in September, 27, 2022, between the National Park Service and Sterling Oil Exploration and Energy Production Company Limited.
Following the above findings, in December 11, 2023, RRDC petitioned the National Park to release the Certified True Copies (CTCs) documents, information and materials pertaining to the sale or lease of the Cross River National Park at the Oban Hills Division.
The letter titled; “Urgent Action Required” addressed to the Conservator –General, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Goni, National Park Abuja through the Conservator of Cross River National Park, read, “the attention of the RRDC has been drawn to the sale and /or lease of the Oban Hills Division of the Cross River National Park to an Indian Oil Exploration and Energy Production Company Limited called, SEEPCO.
“Our preliminary investigation on the matter has revealed that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has already been drawn and endorsed between the National Park Service and SEEPCO, purportedly for the Conservation of Elephants in the Park. It is in response to this development that we are writing to you, to apply for the CTCs of information/documents/materials pertaining to the proposed contract/MOU between your good selves and SEEPCO, intended to be implemented within your professional, operational and legitimate jurisdiction. We understand that as part of the proposed project, arrangements have reached advanced stage for the construction of roads within the territory of the National Park.”
The organisation further noted that standing upon the relevant provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011, the National Pack Commission should provide CTCs of the following documents/information/materials pertaining to the proposed project/ programme.
The copies listed include, “the details and the content of the Memorandum of Understanding and other related documents articulated for the implementation of the project/programme (including the main proposal to the project, project design and implementation work plans, reporting schedules, log frame, budgets, etc.
“The profile and records of experience of the Indian oil exploration and energy production company, SEEPCO, in the realms of Conservation in general, and the conservation of Elephants in particular. The Curricular Vitae and professional certificates of all the staff of the Indian company who are going to be involved in the implementation and management of the proposed project.”
Others include, “CTCs of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report produced by the proponent of the project which is duly approved by the Federal Ministry of Environment after due public consultation and scrutiny as required by Law. CTCs of the Expatriate Quota granted by the Federal Ministry of Interior to the Indian oil exploration and energy production company, SEEPCO, to carry out Elephant Conservation business in the territory of the Oban Hills Division of the Cross River National Park, in Nigeria.
“Certified True Copy of the security clearances issued by the Nigeria Immigration Service and all other platforms of the National Security Architecture of Nigeria”.