The Ogun State Government has said it is not aware of any illegal revenue collection from sawmill operators and timber contractors on the use of the state’s forest reserves by officials of the Ministry of Forestry.
The sawmill operators and timber contractors in Ijebu-Ode had alleged that some ministry officials were milking them and the government dry by collecting “illegal levies” and issuing “fake receipts” to cover up their alleged fraud.
The saw mill operators
and timber contractors, through their counsel, Mr Yomi Nuberu, wrote to Governor Ibikunle Amosun, alleging that some officials of the Forestry Ministry had been illegally collecting money from them.
The operators also alleged that there had not been any response to several petitions which they wrote to the government.
They urged the governor to intervene.
“We make bold to say that our client in this patriotic spirit to assist the government to improve the internal revenue drive and stop illegal felling of timber as well as deforestation at government forest reserves has recorded, in a video tape, all areas where illegal felling of timber and destruction of plantations were done,” the petition said.
The timber merchants urged Amosun to probe the alleged acts of malfeasance, graft and illegal levy collection by the officials.
They noted that this would enable the government to identify the culprits stop the diversion of government revenue.
But Forestry Commissioner Falilu Adebisi Sabitu said the timber merchants had not lodged formal complaints with either the police or the government.
He said the ministry has not received any complaint from the public. He challenged those who claimed to have paid illegal revenue to officials of the ministry to bring their evidence.
Sabitu told The Nation that if the saw mill operators and timber contractors in Ijebu-Ode, under the aegis of the Ijebu Sawmillers and Timber Contractors Association of Arowosegbe Agba Sawmills, had any complaint or petition on the “illegal” fee collection by officials of the ministry, such had not been brought to his notice.
According to him, any illegal collection of fees or issuance of fake revenue receipts by any ministry official would be investigated when formally reported.
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