From Sunday Ani
Assistant Commander General of the Nigerian Hunters and Forestry Security Service (NHFSS) in charge of Technical Services, Chief Johnny Chukwudi Metchie, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to, as a matter of urgency, sign the Hunters and Forestry Security Service Bill into law, saying it is a sure way to deter terrorists and other criminal elements from using the forests to commit atrocities against the people of Nigeria.
On Saturday, terrorists attacked a train station in Igueben Local Government Area of Edo State and abducted scores of passengers who were waiting to board a train while many others sustained various degrees of injuries.
Reacting to the incident on Monday, Chief Metchie said 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 recalled that both the Senate and the House of Representatives have passed the Bill and transmitted it to the President, while they wait for his accent. He added that one of the most effective ways to curb the menace of bandits and other terror activities was to recruit, equip and empower young men and women as hunters and forest guards to make it difficult for criminals to operate from the forests.
Metchie, who is also the African Director of the International Association of World Peace Advocates, 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 Metchie who is also the Prime Minister of the Anambra State Association of Town Unions (ASATU), one of the greatest legacy 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 the 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 accent.
“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 hideout to carry out nefarious activities.
“When bandits and other terrorists strike, where do they take their victims to? 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 and 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 he 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 without wasting more time.”
Metchie, who is also the President General of Umueri Community, said the Police, the Army and other security agencies would benefit immensely if thousands of young people are recruited across the states to protect the forests, as that would make their job of protecting the nation easier.
“Two other areas signing the Bill into law would benefit the country are food security and employment. Today, prices of food items have hit 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,” he stated.