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Delta State Government, CDHR trade words over ban on ‘hand-saw’ in forests

The Delta State Government has banned the use of “Hand-saw” in all its forest reserves as a means of checking its depletion, as well as fighting the menace of illegal felling of wood across the state.

It has consequently ordered that all logs must henceforth pass through the sawmills which have the legal backing, according to the forestry laws of Delta State.

This is coming on the heels of an alleged petition by a group, the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR).

The CDHR had accused officials of the Delta State Ministry of Environment, through its Task Force on Forestry, of extorting monies running into millions of Naira from Handsaw operators and Saw Millers, without paying same into the government coffers.

The Commissioner for Environment, Barr. John Nani announced this during a meeting between the officials of the ministry of environment, Handsaw Dealers Association, Saw Millers Association, Task force on Forestry and Forestry Guards in Asaba, the state capital.

Nani said that the meeting of stakeholders in the forestry sector was convened in order to prove that all monies accruing to the Delta State Government since the setting up of the Taskforce on Forestry had been paid into government’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) account operated by the Ministry of Finance till date.

He described as frivolous and unfounded claims by the CDHR that he misled government into believing there was massive depletion of the forest reserves in the state.

He emphasized that the illegal felling of wood was contributing to climate change that needed to be tackled through an aggressive afforestation programme.

The Environment Commissioner also appealed to the security agencies in the state to assist the Forest Guards and the State Task Force on Forestry in ensuring that any Handsaw found to be involved in illegal felling of wood and depletion of the forest reserves would be arrested
their vehicles seized and handed over to the police.

Reacting to the ban, the Delta State CDHR Chairman, Comrade Prince Kehinde Taiga, said the Delta State Government had no right to ban what did not exist in the first place, adding that the announcement further brought to fore that the Commissioner of Environment was ignorant about forestry operations in the state.

“We want to prove to the Delta State Government that the handsaw dealers only use Delta State as a transit point for their business like any other business that requires to be transitted from one point to the other.

“This irrational decision by the Commissioner of Environment, Hon. John Nani is nothing but a terrible attempt to truncate the smart agenda of His Excellency, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa. We hereby call on the Governor to recind this irrationality and urgently address this issue before it degenerates as we shall furnish the Governor the actual
amount the Ministry has extorted, with facts and figures which may not have been paid to the state coffers.”

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