Timber farmers in Ondo state have accused some government officials of aiding Indian hemp cultivation.
A petition written to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu through one of the victims, Mrs Adenike Adeolu, who was allocated Compartment 124 Akure/Ofosu Forest Reserve, alleged that some government officials were bent on destroying her business.
It was learnt that already, the Nigeria Police Force (NPF)Zone 11,Osogbo and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps(NSCDC) had sent an investigative team to know the veracity of the allegation.
Adeolu, said to have been in the business legally for more than 22 years, hinted that some persons (names withheld) were arrested in 2014 and made to sign an undertaking to stop Indian hemp plantation in the reserves.
Besides, she petitioned the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Ondo State command, and reporting one Mrs Funmilayo Fayeun of planting and harvesting the illicit substance on her compartment.
She pointed out that some government functionaries that called themselves “Commissioner boys,” guarded by security agents, often raid the forest to destroy and extort the farmers, collecting huge amount of money from them.
According to her “These people storm the reserves and get as much as N500, 000 from the timbre farmers. And this money is not remitted into the state government’s purse.”
She lamented that several complaints had been made to government agencies, ministries and the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Agriculture, Pastor Akin Olotu, for assistance.
It was learnt that the Association of Olus and Baales Ala/Akure Ofosu Forest Area had sent a “Save our soul” plea to the governor on February 28, lamenting that those government functionaries were rubbishing his people-centred policies.
Adeolu, who vehemently opposed Indian hemp plantation in the reserves, said she had been the target of the illegal dealers, who influenced government officials to persecute her due to the inducement received from the former.
According to her, “I was banned unjustly through a stop work order, preventing me from doing my legal business just because I resisted the plantation of cannabis on the farmland which we inherited from our fore-fathers.”
He said the woman farmer leveled wrong allegations against the ministry to cover up all her illegal activities since she started the business.
Adeolu however warned that the action of the government will have multiple effects on the society, stressing that if the forest is allowed to be destroyed by the criminals, the teeming youths who get legal means of livelihood therein would storm the streets.
The aggrieved timber merchant shown the “Stop Work Order” paper from Ministry of Natural Resources, dated 21/03/2018 to our correspondent and alleged she was being victimized with trump-up charges.
She lamented that her business worth millions of naira were rotten away in the forest‚.
Mrs Adeolu urged Akeredolu to call his aide, Lawal and others who hide under government to give order, warning that the plantation of cannabis would not deplete the forest.