Seven young men have been arrested by the Ondo State Joint Task Force (JTF), at the Akure, Ofosu Forest Reserve area for alledgedly planting Cannabis Certiva, otherwise known as India Hemp.
The joint task force, which comprises of the Forestry staff, police, soldiers and other stakeholders was constituted by the Ondo state government when the planting of hemp in the government reserves became worrisome.
The Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Mr. Dally Salau speaking on the development observed that encroachments, flecthing activities and cultivation of Cannabis certiva were still on the increase in spite of the closure of forest reserves.
He said the hoodlums were arrested while combing the forest in preparation for planting hemps whose seeds were in bags kept in a hut within the area.
Salau said that the culprits have been handed over to the police for further interrogation and investigation, confirming that they will be charged to court accordingly.
According to Salau, the men were not handed over to the NDLEA because the ministry wanted them to be brought to book in accordance with the law but that the ministry will inform the NDLEA which is in the position to decide which station and court they would be taken to.
He urged those who still engage in such illicit practice, to stop or be ready to face the wrath of the law when arrested.
He also advised labourers to be mindful of the kind of jobs they take and make sure they know who engage them rather than allowing themselves to be used as scape goats in an unwholesome practices.
While commenting on government's permission to some farmers at the forest areas, Salau explained that they were only permitted to do so at the free areas which are not the forest reserves where the economic trees were grown.
His words: " These people were arrested at the forest reserves we have not given them permission to enter, these are not areas you can do agro forestry. These are government reserves with economic trees.
They fell the trees, cleared the place and planted India hemp".
The Hope gathered that all the culprits were from Delta area.
The source stated that They were hired to plant plantain.
One of them Vincent Iyamah, who spoke with The Hope said they were brought to the forest by an unidentified man and that they were invited to the place in preparation for plantain planting.
He said they met the seeds of the hemp packed in a bag and kept at a corner of one of the huts without knowing the purpose for which it was kept
The second in command of the JTF Asogbon Charles told The Hope that the task force is full on ground to apprehend culprits adding that men of the task force are fully armed to meet the targeted aim to ensure that there is peace and orderliness in the state forest reserve areas across the state.