Ogun State Government has condemned the unabated planting of cocoa in its forest reserves across the State, saying perpetrators would henceforth be made to face the full wrath of the law, as the act negates the purpose of the reserves.
Secretary to Ogun State Government, Mr. Olatokunbo Talabi who stated this at a meeting with community leaders and Cocoa farmers from the reserves in Abeokuta, noted that the meeting, which was a fall-out of the suspension order by the State government,, was aimed at exchanging notes with relevant stakeholders, as well as proffering lasting solutions to the menace.
Talabi restated government’s commitment towards sustainability of all forest reserves in the State, established back in the 1930’s, with a charge on stakeholders to support the present administration in its quest to protect the reserves from further exploitation and degradation.
While assuring of government’s concerted efforts at examining and finding lasting solutions to various challenges confronting the reserves, he warned that anyone or group engaging in any act contrary to the law would be punished, saying, “implementation and strict enforcement have become necessary, as people are not ready to obey basic rules guiding forestry operations in the State”.
Contributing, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Forestry, Mr. Dolapo Adewumi said, despite proscribing crop farming in its forest reserves since year 2004, it was shocking to still find new cocoa plantations springing up around the enclaves, noting that, “the illegality has continued to wax stronger, due to recalcitrant attitudes of many farmers and dealers of cocoa in the State”.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Mrs. Bosede Ogunleye, in her remark, said all parties must obey rules and regulations guiding activities in the forest reserves, emphasising that people should not flout laws under the guise of making a livelihood.
Also speaking, Chairman, Cocoa Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ogun State Branch, Mr. Sesan Sowumi, implored government to scale up the monitoring mechanism for adequate policing of the forest areas and ensure strict punishment for offenders, according to the existing laws.
Baale of Mare, a community within one of the forest reserves, Chief Femi Busari, urged community leaders to align with government’s resolve to curtail all forms of forest degradation perpetrated by timber contractors.
Soji Solarin & Goke Oyebade,
Press Officers, Ministry of Forestry & Office of the SSG