Police Under 'Fire' For Releasing ‘Notorious Illegal Tree Feller’ From Custody

Scores of loggers in Omo forest reserve in Ogun State on Wednesday berated the State police command for the release of a suspected illegal tree feller, Adetutu Ajayi.

The loggers, who protested on Wednesday in Abeokuta, were drawn from different groups, including the Ogun State chapters of the Forestry Association of Nigeria; the Saw millers Association of Nigeria; the Timber Explorers Association of Nigeria and the Timber Contractors Association of Nigeria.

Addressing newsmen, the protesters lamented that the notorious tree feller, Ajayi, who was arrested with dangerous weapon on Thursday had just been released by the police the next day.

Former President of the Forestry Association of Nigeria, James Odebiyi; representative of the Director-General, Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria, Dr Tayo Oyelowo; Secretary, Forestry Association of Nigeria, Ogun chapter, Jide Fakayode and others jointly alleged that the suspected criminal, who had been threatening them in the forest reserve, had been released by police after his arrest.

According to Fakayode, “the timber contractors were licensed by government before working in the forest, saying that “over the years, some people visited the reserves illegally to steal what we have logged with our money.”

He said: “We are appealing to the Ogun State government. Adetutu Ajayi has just been arrested. They arrested Adetutu Ajayi on Thursday, and they released him on Friday. We are afraid to go to work.

“Any contractor they (Ajayi and his gang) see in the forest reserve, they will beat him to death. All of us are now scared to go to where we do our business.”

He alleged that the syndicate engaged in stealing their log of woods to Lagos through the water after illegally felling them.

Fakayode maintained: “We discovered that every time these criminals stealing these woods are arrested and we hand them over to the police and the government, the flitches wood they stole and their tools would be returned to them.

“This continued until recently when a task force and forest officers went into where they perpetrated this illegality and Ajayi was caught red-handed. But he was released the next day.

“What we stand for is that justice should be served. A criminal that carried gun and entered our forest to steal woods and attempted to kill them should not be set free, the case should not be swept under the carpet.”

When contacted, the Police Public Relations Officer in the State, Abimbola Oyeyemi, confirmed the arrest and the release of the suspect.

Oyeyemi, however, queried that “if somebody is arrested and he is released on bail, does that mean the case has ended?”

The police spokesman narrated that, “the suspect was released because he sustained injury during the course of his arrest. He sustained injury and police will not detain someone who has sustained injury.

“He was released to a reliable surety that he should go and treat himself, so that they would bring him back and we would charge him to court. What is their fear?”

Oyeyemi denied that the command releases suspects anytime they are arrested.

“That is not to my knowledge, he was arrested and brought down from Ogbere down to Eleweran and when he got there, we discovered that he has a very serious injury and he was released to go and treat himself and when that is over, he will be charged to court.

“He was released on bail and nothing else. When we have somebody who says I am going to bring a suspect whenever you need him, you can release a suspect to him and he would be arraigned in court. Did we tell them that the case has ended? He is going to be arraigned in court or did we say we are not going to charge him to court,” Oyeyemi questioned.



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