From Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
As the world markes the International Day of Forests, Ogun State Government has vowed to sack the occupants of no fewer than 100 illegal enclaves in its forest reserves across the state.
Commissioner for Forestry Tunji Akinosi made this known at the event organised by the ministry to commemorate the 2021 edition of the global event, held at the Obas’ Complex, Oke Mosan, Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
Akinosi said that the state government has so far lost about 9,500 hectares of land to illegal encroachment of its forest, leading to loss of revenue of about N23 billion, noting the area encroached upon could have been home to over 10 million trees.
He added that the activities of the residents of the illegal enclaves had been found to border on criminal, particularly the stealing forest resources of the state and transporting them to neighbouring states.
The commissioner declared that the state government can no longer fold its arm and allow economic saboteurs to have free reign in Ogun forest reserves, saying the ‘time has come to sack the occupants of the illegal enclaves.
‘We have invited the Baales, that is the heads of 41 legal enclaves in our forest reserves, to this programme. Some of them have also gone beyond where the government marked for them and we have told them that it is either they move back and be ready to plant trees on the site of land encroached upon or their right to the enclave be revoked,’ Akionsi stated.
Commenting on the theme of the celebration, “Forestry Restoration: A path to Recovery and Wellbeing”, the commissioner said that the administration of Governor Dapo Abiodun remained committed to guarding its forest reserves, planting of new trees and tackling headlong all criminal activities in and around its forest reserves.
Speaking during the programme, Tunde Badmus, Baale of Araromi 2 Enclave, lauded the government for its renewed fight against criminal activities in its forest reserves, saying that ‘such patriotic moves are urgently needed to protect the forest reserves from further destruction.’