A task force led by the Ogun State Commissioner for Forestry, Tunji Akinosi, yesterday stormed the state’s forest at Area J4 in Ijebu-North East Local Government Area and burnt several acres of cocoa, cassava and plantain farms owned by the villagers in the forest.
Two farmers, Kehinde Ogundipe and Ojedeji Bamiji, were also said to have been arrested during the operation in Erinla and Bayesan villages.
The affected farmers had allegedly been farming in the reserves despite suspension on activities in the government’s reserves.
Akinosi, expressing shock that “illegal” farming had continued on the reserves despite the suspension, said the move was to rid the area of “all unwanted farming.”
Akinosi said the Governor Dapo Abiodun administration would not fold its arms and allow the state’s resources to be wasted by some “selfish people.”
The Commissioner said activities of cocoa and other crop farmers were detrimental to the economic growth and ecosystem development of the state.
“Government will continue to destroy cocoa and other crop farms inside the forest reserve and more arrests will be made. It is certain that those apprehended will be made to face the wrath of the law.
“As good citizens saddled with forest resources management in the state, we will always promote forest regeneration and conservation for economic growth and sustainable ecological conditions to secure a better future for the state,” Akinosi said.
The Commissioner ordered that the two illegal farmers caught during the exercise should be handed over to the police at the Ijebu Ode Division for proper prosecution in the court to serve as deterrent to others.
He told the Baales (village heads) of Erinla Village, Mr Bashiru Asunmo and Bayesan Village, Mr Kehinde Bayesan, to disallow the farming of cocoa and other crops in their villages, warning that government would not condone any form of illegality in the reserves.
Akinosi said the monitoring and burning exercise would be sustained across the forest reserves until farmers desist from their illegal acts, warning that anyone apprehended would be prosecuted without delay.
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