The Yobe government on Tuesday said it would employ forest guards to protect 44 gazetted forest reserves in the state in a bid to promote environmental conservation in the state.
Alhaji Jibrin Kortomi, the state Commissioner for Environment, disclosed this in Damaturu at a meeting with traditional rulers, opinion leaders, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association and other stakeholders.
He said government was working round the clock to halt encroachment on forest reserves in the state.
“The Kumadugu Yobe forest reserve, with a land covering 33 square miles, was first gazetted in 1953, but was reduced to 25 square miles when re-gazetted in 1969 due to encroachments,” he said.
The commissioner said government had directed farmers who encroached on the Kumadugu-Yobe forest reserve and all others,to vacate the forest.
“Government would not tolerate illegal felling of trees and other human activities, reducing the population of live trees in the forests,” Kartomi warned.
He cautioned herdsmen against grazing on farmlands, adding that the relative peace being enjoyed between farmers and grazers in the state must be sustained.
“Nobody, either a farmer or grazer, should take the law into his hands over any disagreement; you should channel your complaints to constituted authorities to settle all disputes.
“The cultural organisations are advised to closely monitor activities of migrant cattle herders to ensure peaceful coexistence with their host communities,” the commissioner said.
Alhaji Adamu Chilariye, a farmer and state chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), said he had to forfeit his rice farm which fell within the forest reserve.
“I had already cultivated the farmland but learnt that it was within the Kumadugu-Yobe forest reserve; I have therefore relinquished the farm,” he said.
He called on all other farmers within the forest reserves, to abide by the directive of government and avoid farming within the forest reserves.
Alhaji Bello A. Bello, state Secretary, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, commended the state Ministry of Environment for the timely intervention, which he said had averted possible breakdown of law and order.