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Ogun State government says it is set to enact a law to ensure that illegal tree fellers and economic saboteurs operating in government forest reserves across the state are fined, prosecuted and imprisoned.
The state governor, Dapo Abiodun, made this known during the Treasury Board Meeting on year 2022-2024 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the 2022 Budget held at the Obas’ Complex, Abeokuta.
Abiodun said his administration would commence an advocacy programme on radio and television that would enlighten the people on the consequences of their actions in the forest reserves.
According to him, illegal tree fellers must be made to realise the consequence of their actions in terms of the environmental impact.
“We need to look at the law that would provide for stiffer penalties for those that are caught doing this and I think we need to step up advocacy, a massive one and warnings that if you are caught cutting down economic trees, we will descend on you with the full wrath of the law.
“So, I think that we will be stepping up on television and on radio criminalizing this act and letting people know that the consequences of this act is a particular term of imprisonment and fine or both,” he said.
Abiodun, who also added that there was need to show those people caught illegally operating in or destroying the forest reserves on the television, posited that airing them on the television would gradually make others involved in the act understand the message.
“We need to make some people the scape goat and when we catch them, we show them in the television that these are the people caught cutting down our trees, there are their sponsors. When you start that, you will begin to see people understanding our message,” the governor noted.
The State Commissioner for Forestry, Engr. Tunji Akinosi, decried the extent at which some people ring exotic trees such as the Melina because they want to plant cocoa or cocoyam in the forest reserves.
He expressed displeasure that efforts at sensitising the people against entering the forest reserves for illegal activities is proving abortive.
Akinosi, while explaining that some of the saboteurs who enter the reserves late at night fully armed don’t even understand that they are committing a crime against the state, noted that “it is disheartening that the activities of the saboteurs is destroying efforts of government”.
The Commissioner, however, disclosed that a law that would criminalise activities of illegal tree fellers is currently at the stage of being passed by the State House of Assembly.
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