Illegal loggers in the oil rich Edo State of Nigeria forests are in for hard times as the Government has directed the forest patrol team to firm up surveillance across the forest belt so as to mitigate their activities.
In a statement, Secretary to the State Government, Osarodion Ogie Esq. condemned the activities of illegal loggers at the Okomu National Park and across the Okomu Forest Reserve.
However poorly paid forest patrol officials lack the means to check these loggers, many of whom are well armed.
He said, “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.