Johnny Chukwudi Metchie, Assistant Commander General of the Nigerian Hunters and Forestry Security Service (NHFSS) in charge of Technical Services, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sign the Hunters and Forestry Security Service Bill into law.
He said the bill is a sure way of deterring terrorists and other criminal elements from using the forests to commit atrocities against the people of Nigeria.
Recall that suspected terrorists on Saturday, attacked a train station in Igueben Local Government Area of Edo State to Warri in Delta State and abducted scores of passengers who were waiting to board a train, leaving many injured.
Reacting to the incident on Monday, Metchie told newsmen that it has become an urgent matter for President Buhari to sign the Bill into law which would empower Forest Guards to bear arms and protect farms and forests as is the case in many other countries.
He said that one of the most effective ways to curb the menace of bandits and other terror activities, is to recruit, arm and empower young men and women as hunters and forest guards to make it difficult for criminals to operate from the forests.
Metchie noted that when the Bill is signed into law, the Hunters and Forestry Security Service would take over the protection and safeguard of forests across the country.
According to him, one of the greatest gifts President Buhari would leave for his successor, is to sign the Bill into law, as such would make the fight against insecurity easier for the new administration.
He said- “The incident that happened in Edo last Saturday, where many passengers waiting to board a train were attacked and abducted is very unfortunate and regrettable.
“While I condemn the dastardly act and sympathise with victims and their families, I want to use this opportunity to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to, as a matter of urgency, sign the Hunters and Forestry Security Service Bill into law. The Bill is before Mr. President just waiting for his assent.
“I have lived in many countries, including those in Europe, United States, Canada and others. In these countries, even in South Africa, the forests are protected by Forest Guards and Hunters. And this helps tremendously in curbing activities of criminals, especially those that use the forests as hideouts to carry out nefarious activities.
“When bandits and other terrorists strike, where do they take their victims? It is the forests and farms. They take their victims to the forests because they are aware that there are no authorised security personnel there. When the Bill is passed into law, it would empower the hunters and forest guards to bear arms, motivate them to work and defend their fatherland, knowing that they have the backing of the government.
“I believe that President Buhari is a patriotic citizen and a statesman. I want to think and believe that the President wants to leave lasting legacies for his predecessor. He should therefore save the incoming administration the burden of sending the Bill to the lawmakers by signing it into law himself without wasting more time.”
“Two other areas signing the Bill into law would benefit the country are food security and employment. Today, prices of food items are on the rooftops. The reason is that insecurity has forced many farmers out of the bush.
“The presence of armed forest guards would assure farmers that their farms and produce are safe. In addition, with the signing of the Bill into law, state governments would be motivated to recruit thousands of young people into the service which would drastically reduce unemployment with a double effect of reducing the number of people going into crime,” Metchie added.