A former councillor in Akamkpa Local Government Area of Cross River State, Mr. Joseph Enem, and three others, have become fugitives, hiding in the forest after the police declared them wanted for illegally poaching four elephants in the Oban Forest Reserve.
The councilor and his accomplices were alleged to have killed the elephants and thrown away the bodies of the huge animals after removing their tusks, which they sold to their agents who came into the state through neighbouring Cameroon for onward sale in Europe.
The Director of Forestry in the state, Mr. Arikpo Arikpo, said the councilor and his gang poached the elephants, which were endangered wildlife and were under the protection of the Forestry Commission.
He said the natives in the area could not claim ignorance of the fact that the elephants and several other wildlife species found in the expansive Oban Forest were under the protection of the commission and therefore should not be killed or stolen and sold illegally.
“When arrested, the four men would be made to face the law because poaching of wildlife in that forest is banned and the natives are all aware of the ban. So, the culprits will pay for that act of illegality,” he said.
He called on the chiefs and people of the area to assist to arrest the four suspects, as they could commit what he called more havoc to the animals and bird species in the forest.
“They have to be arrested fast to stop them from committing more havoc in the forest,” he stressed.
According to Arikpo, some persons were recently caught with 140 parrots stolen from the same forest and were in the process of exporting them to Europe through Cameroon when they were arrested.
“You can imagine what these poachers are doing to our forest. This is totally unacceptable and anyone caught in the illegal act would be made to face the law,” he said.