By Habibu Umar Aminu
Katsina — About 948 people are discovered to have illegally encroached onto government reserved forests as well as cattle routes in Katsina state.
A committee set up by the state government uncovered these infrigements recently.
The most affected area is Safana LGA where 426 persons were found to have encroached into the Rugu forest.
Those involved are said to be top state and local government officials, politicians, traditional rulers, security operatives amongst others.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting on the menace of forest reserve and cattle route issues, Governor Aminu Masari said the administration had the names of all those that have tampered with forest reserves, adding that the government would recover the lands.
He said government would constitute committees at village, district and emirate levels to ensure that henceforth, traditional rulers were held responsible for any encroachment.
He said it was disheartening to see forests and rights of way being tampered with. The governor said the state committee under the secretary to state government would determine the date from which the recovery should commence.
“We shall draw a line on this and use stiffer penalties. The encroached cattle routes must be re-established to allow free movement of animals and avoid friction with farmers,” he said.
The chairman of the state standing committee on cooperation between farmer and herders, Abdulaziz Kofar, said it was more wearisome when a person was uncovered to have encroached on government land and asked to move out, only to later realise that he still maintained the land.