Kidnappings: ‘There’s Nothing We Can Do,’ Secure Your Forests — Nigerian Government Tell State Governors
The federal government ordered states to protect their forest reserves yesterday, claiming that they are under their jurisdiction.
The guideline was issued in response to the fact that pirates, criminal herders, and kidnappers use such reserves as safe havens for their criminal activities.
Prof Samuel Erugo, SAN, however, said that because forestry was not on the Exclusive Legislative List, states could legislate on it.
It would be recalled that the governor of Ondo State, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, drew national attention to criminal herdsmen’s activities in the state’s forest reserves and used the reactivated 1969 Cattle Trade Law to evict the herders.
Mr Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, said the Federal Government will also improve the National Parks Service’s capacity to defend Nigeria’s 17 national parks against criminal gangs at the Forum of the SGF and Secretaries to State Governments, SSGs, meeting in Abuja in the first quarter of 2021.
“We all know that these criminal elements have converted our once pristine forest reserves into an operating base and hide-out from which they initiate and maintain the bulk of their activities,” he said.
“Of course, we will still need our forests and other protected areas for the services they provide, especially as foreign exchange earners, sources of job growth, ensuring the availability of soil nutrients and water for food security, serving as carbon sinks to combat climate change, and providing a pleasant environment in which to live.
‘All forests are the property of state governments.’
“As a result, the challenge is for state governments to put in place processes and systems that have been operational in the past for preserving sustainably managed forests, as all forests in the country are owned by state governments.
“In a similar vein, the federal government will continue to reinforce the National Parks Service to ensure that all of the previous seven national parks, as well as the ten new ones built, are safe from criminals.
“I’d also like to thank the Nigerian Forestry Association for their presentation, and I’d like to encourage them to mobilize the forestry profession in the country to provide current and timely recommendations for consideration by governments at all levels, consistent with the status of ownership of these forest reserves.”
According to the SGF, Nigeria has recently been faced with an unexplained escalation of violence, resulting in insecurity across the country, adding that this development not only drains national resources but also creates an environment of instability and threatens the nation’s ability to provide a convivial atmosphere for its people in their daily lives.
“Governments at all levels have done everything possible to solve these issues. However, its prevalence necessitates methods that go beyond the usual and anticipated, involving all branches of government, all government agencies, and, most significantly, those who have direct contact with rural communities and citizens.
“The Role of Secretaries to State Governments in Strengthening Sub-National Level Security Architecture” is the meeting’s theme, and it reflects the need for this Forum to ensure that all government machinery works in concert to address our current security challenges.
“This theme stresses the need for security agencies to share their experiences with the forum, identifying crucial areas where we can provide the required support and facilitation for their kinetic strategies.
“Learning from a practical experience of dealing with the issue of banditry, we have also requested one of our members to share with us so that others with similar experience.