The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, has said the state is partnering with forest rangers and security agencies in the state to launch a three-month operation to rid Okomu Forest, Gelegele Forest and Okomu National Park of illegal and other criminal elements.
Obaseki disclosed this to journalists after a meeting with delegates of Africa Natural Investors (ANI) Foundation, the newly trained forest rangers and other security agencies to bring a lasting solution to the issue in the Okomu and Gelegele forest areas.
He said, “I have just given approval to the security agencies for a special operation to flush out all criminal gangs from the Okomu Forest and Okomu National Park.
“This is critical because the rate at which logging is being undertaken in that park and the cost to our environment cannot be quantified and it has become an issue of great concern to the people and Government of Edo State.
“I am now mandating a special 90-day operation and we are going to be sourcing for the support of the Chief of Army Staff to make sure that the new rangers that we have just trained are protected and safe.”
Obaseki added, “Nobody who should not be in that forest or game reserve should be found there and anybody caught logging in that forest will be made to face the law swiftly and squarely.”
On his part, the Director, Africa Natural Investors (ANI) Foundation, Brigadier General (Rtd) Olajide Laleye, noted that “Ani has trained the first set of forest rangers and for a large scale operation for the rangers to clean up the forests and national park as such, we needed the backing of the governor and I am glad to hear His Excellency giving us his full cooperation on this issue.
“His Excellency, Governor Obaseki, has also stated the need for the inclusion of all other security agencies in the operation and we are set to begin immediately.”