Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
The Edo State Government has condemned the activities of illegal loggers at Okomu Forest Reserve, saying it is compromising the forest assets in the state and endangering the wild-life in the park.
In a statement issued yesterday, Secretary to the State Government, Mr. Osarodion Ogie, directed the forest patrol team to firm up surveillance across the forest belt so as to mitigate the activities of illegal forest loggers, who violate government regulations on logging.
According to him, “the State Government condemns activities of illegal loggers at the Okomu National Park and across the Okomu Forest Reserve. Anyone found conducting illegal activities in the forest plane would be brought to justice and the state will explore extant laws to ensure that they are duly prosecuted.
“The forest patrol teams, which were recently empowered with equipment to improve the surveillance of the forest, are charged to ramp up their activities, with a view to halting the activities of these illegal loggers.”
He added that the state government has over the years pursued an aggressive afforestation programme in conjunction with international partners and local experts to protect its pristine forest assets, in the wake of debilitating encroachment on forest reserves that had compromised the safety of endangered species, among other harsh effects on the state’s ecosystem.
The stern warning by the state government is coming in the wake of a reported spike in illegal logging in the Okomu Forest Reserve, which is further depleting the state’s forest asset and leading to a situation where elephants are reportedly running rampage on farmlands, destroying crops and other valuables in local communities.