Some suspected flitchers operating inside Shasha Forest, Ile Ife, Osun State, were said to have engaged men of Agro Ranger Unit of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, in fierce gun battle inside the forest.
The state Commissioner for Environment and Sanitation, Mr. Sola Oladepo, in a statement said the operation to dislodge the flitchers from the forest lasted three days and led to the arrest of two suspects.
Oladepo added that another suspect is said to be on the run and had been declared wanted for conspiracy and trespassing in Government Reserve Forest.
The commissioner, in a statement, further explained that during the operation, five lorry loads of flitched planks were recovered and evacuated to Araromi Oke Odo for safe keeping.
The statement reads, “Earlier this week, a team of Forestry Officials led by zonal forestry programme officer, assisted by Agro Rangers unit of NSCDC, Osun Command, Ife Timber Contractors Task Force and local hunters stormed F3 Forest Reserve via Ologan area of Shasha Forest Reserve in Ife where lots of economic trees were being illegally flitched.
“Some of the illegal flitchers were arrested, and gun shots were exchanged during the operation that lasted for three days. An operator, Mr. Asekunle Rasheed, and an assistant operator, Mr. Olasupo Nuru, were arrested.
“A man called Alhaji Mukaila ran away during the process of arrest and had since been declared wanted for trespassing and conspiracy to flitch illegally in the Government Forest Reserve.”
Oladepo said that five motorcycles and four felling machines being used for operation were seized from the suspects, adding that those arrested had been handed over to security operatives for prosecution.