By Monday Ajogun
Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo, on Wednesday said he would send a forestry bill to the Edo State House of Assembly for consideration, indicating that the measure is to deter illegal logging.
Obaseki said this while speaking with Mr Augustine Obekpa, the Conservator of Okomo National Park, during a fact-finding visit to Udo community, Ovia South West Local Government Area of the state.
“We will send forestry bill to Edo State House of Assembly for consideration next week. “This is to ensure that we expand the law beyond forestry assets to natural assets found around the forest and include it in the bill.
“We want to collaborate with the National Park service. I will visit the minister of environment with the proposal that Edo Government should jointly manage the park with the Federal Government since it is our resource.
“With that collaboration, we will put in more resources, increase the force, the number of Rangers and Park Officers who have been protecting the park and the reserves, particularly the Okumo and the Gelegele reserves.
“The collaboration will include hiring more people, upgrading their training, as well as providing more facilities and amenities for the facilities,” he said.
The governor said his administration would improve on the security of the park and expose its beauty and eco tourism opportunities.
“We have been hearing of nefarious activities of criminal elements in the park, the forest reserves and the Okomu oil company. We are on a fact-finding visit on what has been going on in the park.
“We want to know the number of attacks, where the attacks have come from and how we can collaborate effectively with the park officials using full security system in the state to deal with the security challenges.”
Obaseki said government would not sit back and allow criminality to continue, adding that he is expecting a full report of criminal activities in the area and on the truck with high quality wood that was seized.
He expressed concern that criminals come in, log illegally, take the logs, sell them, procure more arms and come back to occupy the area.
In his remarks, Obekpa, said that the park is home to white-throated Monkeys, Buffalos and Elephants, adding that farming, hunting and illegal logging are affecting the natural habitat of animals.
He appealed to the governor for logistics support to enable them effectively cover the assets in the forest. (NAN)