The Edo State government has disclosed plans to establish a forestry protection force to fight banditry in the state’s forest reserves which have been illegally converted to bases for kidnapping and other nefarious activities.
Governor Godwin Obaseki disclosed this while flagging-off a 10-million tree planting programme at Upper Sokponba forest reserve in Orhionmwon local government area of the state.
He said the initiative would help to keep the forests and the land safe by ensuring that bandits cannot use them as bases to foster criminality.
“Along with our forest regeneration drive, we also want to keep our forests and our land safe. As a government which is committed to the security of lives and property of citizens, we are determined to keep the feat which we have already recorded in terms of security in the state and ensure that kidnappings, armed robbery, land grabbing and other criminal activities are reduced to the barest minimum.
“Our security strategy is hinged on the collaboration between the national security and the Edo Sate Vigilante Network so that community participation is a key driver of our security plan,” he said.
Speaking on the essence of the tree planting programme, Governor Obaseki said due to environmental degradation arising from adverse weather conditions and threat to livelihoods, his government was collaborating with the private sector and all communities to regenerate degraded and depleted forest reserves in the state for environmental sustainability.
He said discussions were on to establish the Bendel Commission which would help to foster mutual cooperation on economic, security, cultural and environmental matters between Edo and Delta states.
“We must balance environmental sustainability with livelihood and quickly reclaim our expansive forest land for the present and future generation.
Obaseki who described the coronavirus pandemic as one of the greatest threats in the nation’s history due to global death toll, appealed to residents of the state get vaccinated against the virus.