As part of measures to checkmate activities of illegal wood loggers, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has disclosed plans to recruits youths for purpose of protecting forests across the state.
This as the governor ordered the immediate disbandment of all members of the vigilante group in Inikorogha, Ovia South-West Local Government Area of the state accused of aiding illegal wood loggers and other criminal elements in the area.
Obaseki gave the order after a fact-finding mission to the community with a team of security agencies comprising the police, Army, Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), Department of State Services (DSS), and National Park Rangers, among others.
The governor who assured on the completion of the Inikorogha Community Road, said security has been strengthened in the area to ward off illegal loggers and other criminal elements.
According to him, “I am here to see how we can move things forward. By next week, bulldozers will resume work on the construction of your road; you need to have access to your community. Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) awarded this road, but they failed to commence the work.
“The contractor will commence work by next week. We are disbanding all the vigilante groups aiding those engaged in illegal logging and we are recruiting able-bodied young men and women from this community to protect our forest and fight against illegal logging.”
“I have made provisions for marine boots to man our waterways. Those engaged in illegal logging must stop because if you cut down those trees, you won’t be able to stay here.”
Reassuring improved security in the area and plans for an Edo Forestry Law to impose stiffer penalties for illegal loggers, Obaseki noted, “Before now, what we had as a law does not have real penalties. It was more like a slap on the hand; the law just provided for your logs to be impounded.
“With the current law, it goes beyond impounding; we will prosecute and convict people who are logging illegally and who are doing things against the spirit of the forestry law in Edo”, he said.
Earlier, the youth Chairman of Inikorogha, Mr. Favour Arigban, alleged that he was driven away from his community by some criminal elements because he was committed to fighting illegal logging and protecting the Okomu National Forest.