The Ogun State government has warned Baales and Village Heads residing in the State Forest reserves to desist from subjecting their subjects to any form of slavery, extortion and forced labour under any disguise.
Commissioner for Forestry, Chief Kolawole Lawal gave the warning at a meeting in Abeokuta, to resolve the crisis between the Baale and some farmers from Eseke village, Area J4.
Lawal said it came to government’s notice that some Baales and Village Heads were allegedly extorting their subjects in the guise of allocating government lands to them.
He however, stated that government has not authorised any person to collect money on its behalf, saying the reserve land were exclusive rights of government to allocate and warned that government would not hesitate to sanction any erring traditional chief irrespective of the status in the society.
“We have not mandated anybody to collect money on behalf of government in the reserves, if there is need to make any payment to government by the residents of the reserves that will be communicated through the appropriate channels which are the officials of the Ministry’’, he said.
“It should be noted that government would not tolerate any act of force labour or slavery, as nobody has the right to force people to work in his/her farm against their will’’, he added.
He charged the residents of the enclaves to accord the Baales and Village Heads due respect and also abide by the rules and regulations guiding the reserves and desist from planting new cocoa.