By Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja
No fewer than 23 persons have been arrested in Kogi State for illegal felling of trees, while trucks load of woods were also impounded by the Forestry Taskforce set up by the state government.
Addressing journalists in Lokoja at the weekend, the state Commissioner for Environment, Mrs. Rosemary Osikoya, said the suspects were arrested by the taskforce put in place by the state government at Kabba, Okpo, Bassa, Chikara and Lokoja axis of the state.
She expressed concern that illegal felling of trees had continued in the state despite the ban, adding that those arrested would be investigated and prosecuted in accordance with the law to serve as deterrent to others.
“We appeal to communities in the state to always alert the government of all illegal deforestations going on in their areas for appropriate action,” she said.
Osikoya said the present administration was concerned about the preservation and conservation of natural resources in the state, noting that there is no commensurate afforestations for the rate of deforestations going on in the state.
She also disclosed that over 2,000 trees would be planted across the state, adding that there was need to conserve the environment.
According to her, environment must be protected by reducing deforestation, reducing carbon emissions, noting that the quality of life must also be improved by reducing the amount of time families spend in the endless task of foraging for fuel.
She said in conserving the environment, people need to reduce the use of toxic materials, conserve water and energy, ensure clean environment by disposing garbage properly, recycle waste products, invest in green energy and drive fuel-efficient cars with reduced carbondioxide emissions.
The commissioner noted that many policies, guidelines and initiatives were already in place to conserve the environment and promised more to be done by building on the network already being carried out by the current administration so far to improve the general environment at specific locations such as schools and homes.
Also speaking on the arrests, Chairman of the Forestry Taskforce, Mallam Usman Umaru, said the team does not make arrests indiscriminately, adding that there are ‘pass hammers’ that usually distinguish genuine loggers from the illegal ones.
Spokesman of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in the state, Mr. Tijani Ibrahim, said over 10 suspects are in their custody while others are in custody of the police, adding they would be prosecuted once investigations are concluded.