Laleye Dipo in Minna
The Niger State Police Command has arrested no fewer than 21 villagers for allegedly felling trees and turning them to charcoal in some local governments in the state.
The suspects, according to investigation, were arrested last Tuesday by the special committee set up by the state government to check deforestation.
Seven of those arrested were from Mokwa Local Government, five from Bida, while the rest according to the findings were picked up from Katcha, Edati and Lavun Local Governments.
A relation of one of the suspects however said they were not caught felling trees or burning felled trees to charcoal.
It was learnt that initially, the suspects were detained at the police stations in the affected local governments but were all brought to Minna last Friday where they were being kept at the Criminal Investigation Department at the police headquarters.
The state Police Command Public Relations Officer, DSP Muhammad Abubakar, when contacted confirmed the arrest of 21 suspects.
Muhammad said: “They have been screened and the 21 have been charged to magistrate court 1 for violating the Niger State Forestry Law 2013.
In 2016, the present administration in the state reengaged over 520 “green guards” who were initially employed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government to “protect the forests in the state”.