Governor Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger state, has inaugurated a seven-man administrative panel to investigate the allegations of bribery, illegal issuance of license and permits to wood merchants that are involved in felling of trees in the state.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary (CPS) Mrs. Mary Noel-Berje, said Gov. Sani Bello, inaugurated the committee at the Government House, Minna, the state capital, with a charge on the members to be passionate in the discharge of their assignment, and without compromise.
The governor explained that members of the panel were carefully selected considering his passion of ensuring a green environment, while urging the committee members to be diligent in their investigations not just for the present, but for posterity.
He lamented that most of the wood merchants were not Nigerlites, as such they were taking advantage of the vulnerability and lack of knowledge of the local people to have access to the forest, noting that the state government has stopped the issuance of license to any individual or group of persons to fell trees.
According to him, economic trees like sheanut said to produce the best charcoal, are mostly the target.
The practice, the governor said has adverse, negative effect on the environment such as desert encroachment which affects water bodies and farmlands.
He then advocated tree planting to replenish the forest
The panel’s terms of reference include investigation of allegations of bribery, issuance of illegal license and permits to wood merchants, charcoal producers and other forest exploiters.
The panel is also to make a thorough investigation into activities of illegal logging and felling of trees, illegal exploitation of forest resources in the state, and to ascertain all those involved and culpable in the illegal activities as well as recommend an appropriate sanction.
Others are; to find out the communities where these illegal activities are taking place, ascertain the extent of illegal logging and exploitation of forest resources in the state and the extent of economic loss to the state government.
The committee has Alhaji Adamu Shuaibu, former Permanent Secretary in the state as chairman, and Mallam Danlami Umar, director, chieftaincy affairs, Ministry for Local Government, Community Development and Chieftaincy Affairs as Secretary.
It has three weeks to complete its assignment, and submit its report for necessary action.
While responding, Alhaji Shuaibu, assured the governor that the panel will carry out its assignment diligently.
Other members of the committee are; Mr. Paul Kolo, Mr. Solomon Sule, Kabiru Barau, Alhaji Anaruwa Isah, and Suleiman Wushishi, who are to serve as the legal adviser and assistant secretary respectively.