The Ogun State Government has warned the community leaders residing within Government forest reserves areas to desist from allocating Government land to farmers, individuals and corporate bodies.
The State Commissioner for Forestry, Chief Kolawole Lawal gave the warning at Osun gate, Ijebu-Igbo, in Ijebu/North Local Government Area of the State during his familiarization tour to the forest reserve areas.
He said that the traditional rulers which is also known as ‘Baales’ in the State who indulge in the habit of collecting money from cocoa farmers for allocating lands to them, should stop henceforth or face the full wrath of the law.
The Commissioner noted that it was wrong for any traditional rulers ‘baale’ in the State to allocate Government land to farmers and at the same time it is illegal for any farmer to plant cocoa in the forest reserve areas with authorisation.
Chief Lawal maintained that any newly planted cocoa tree found in the forest reserves devoid of the ones being planted by government officials or which does not follow due process would be destroyed, adding that Government would not condone illegal planting of cocoa in the forest reserves.
“It is very absurd that some traditional rulers ‘baales’ engage in the act of lawlessness, they collect money from some farmers and allocate lands to them in order to destroy our trees. We are using this opportunity to tell those people to desist from this unlawful act but if they refuse to toe the line we know what else to do’’, he said.
In the same vein, the forestry Commissioner charged the forest guards in the State to be diligent and passionate with their duties, adding that the Ministry was ready to provide them with required tools and machineries to aid their job.
Chief Lawal concluded that any forest guard caught in the act of lawlessness or aiding illegality in the course of their duties would be dealt with accordingly.