The Niger State government has warned those violating forestry and wildlife laws in the state to desist or face the full wrath of the law.
Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu gave the warning while inaugurating 486 Forest Green Guards in Minna, the state capital on Thursday.
He lamented that the laws guiding forestry were being “recklessly” flouted, leading to depletion in forests and exposure to ecological disaster.
Aliyu said the Green Guard Initiative was born out of concern for the protection of the bio-diversity of the environment and the need to take a deliberate step towards preserving the forest in their natural state.
He said a law forbidding forest burning, tree cutting and illegal hunting in the forests in the states would soon be in place.
The governor also charged local government councils in the state to give the guards maximum support in the discharge of their duties.
The guards are part of the 1,656 youth engaged in various sectors under the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme, SURE-P, in the last eight months.
Out of these, 520 were engaged as sanitary officers, while 300 were trained in fisheries and other agriculture related enterprises.
In his address, the state’s director general of SURE-P, Nuhu Hassan, said that people who degrade the environment by burning and felling trees would soon be out of jobs adding that the Green Guards would also contribute in intelligence gathering and compliment the security agencies in its activities.
According to him, N178 million has been earmarked for the salaries and allowances of the Green Guards until they are absorbed into the state civil service in January 2015 adding that more programmes are being initiated by SURE-P to give unemployed graduates a new lease of life.
The youths were drawn from 10 out of the 15 local government areas mostly threatened by encroachers, illegal loggers and hunters.
The other 15 local government areas would be covered in the second phase of the programme which would commence next year, Hassan