Abeokuta – Ogun State government said its war against encroaching on its forest reserves has started yielding results with the arrested of five persons for violation of forestry rules in the state.
A statement by the State Ministry of Forestry indicated that the violation included setting-up new illegal settlements, destruction of government trees, allocation of the land to farmer from neighbouring state and planting of new cocoa in the reserve.
According to the Commissioner, Kolawole Lawal, the arrest was made at area J1 Forest Reserve, during a monitoring exercise.
Lawal, according to the statement, led the Special Task Force on a routine inspection to some villages, which include Korede, Lawal, Sojukorodo and Eseke settlements in Ijebu North East Local Government Area.
Those arrested, the statement said, had been on the wanted list for illegal activities in the reserves, such as, aiding illegal migrants, destruction of economic trees and illegal allocation of government land to farmers from neighbouring States.
He explained that despite the ongoing campaign against deforestation and planting of new cocoa in the forest reserves, the suspects had illegally set up new settlements deep inside the forest, destroyed trees and allocate land in preparation for cocoa planting, adding that, the suspects would be prosecuted accordingly.
“During our routine check, it was discovered that many illegal Baales and some notorious encroachers had been selling forest land to farmers from neighbouring States. They also set up new settlements and destroyed trees. Those arrested will be prosecuted accordingly,” Lawal said.
The Commissioner noted that the State government had continued to demonstrate its support for promotion of agriculture in the State with various programs, noting that, destruction of State resources under any guise would not be tolerated.
The Commissioner however advised those interested in securing land for agriculture purpose to contact the Ministry of Agriculture or Ministry of Forestry for those interested in agroforestry activities.