National Parks Now Abode of Bandits, Kidnappers, Says Senate

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The Senate in session

Deji Elumoye and Chuks Okocha in Abuja

The Senate yesterday lamented that bandits and kidnappers have taken over seven National Parks across the country as their abodes.

It therefore raised the alarm over the infiltration of national parks by criminal syndicates plying the trade of banditry, kidnapping, cattle rustling and others, which has resulted in the killing of Rangers and commuters.

The upper chamber, while discussing the issue, called for the mainstreaming of the National Park Service into the national security architecture in line with the resolution of the 12th National Council on Environment.

The Senate also urged relevant security agencies in the country to be involved in park protection and surveillance as well as training in fire arms and ballistics, surveillance and intelligence gathering for park rangers.

These resolutions were sequel to the consideration of a motion on the need to mainstream the National Parks Service into the Nigeria security architecture, which was sponsored by Senator Suleiman Umar.

According to him, Nigeria has seven national parks across the country covering 20,156kilometres, which is about three percent of Nigeria’s total landscape, and serves to protect the country’s diverse flora and fauna by ensuring that the natural ecosystem remains intact.

He warned: “These national parks are becoming safe haven for criminal elements within the society, who often use parks as hideout. They come out to attack and return there for safety.

“The National Park Service has no sufficient resources, personnel and training to cope with the current security challenges the country is facing. What is at the disposal of park rangers are obsolete and low caliber firearms and ammunition such as Double Barrel short guns (DBSG), Pump Action rifles, and Dane guns.

“Parks are now home to organised crime (banditry, kidnapping and cattle rustling) with resultant killing of rangers and commuters by poachers/herdsmen.”