The Senate on Tuesday, 12th April 2022, read for the Third Time and passed the Nigerian Hunters and Forest Security Service (NHFSS) bill (SB 477) sponsored by Senator Biodun Olujimi. The bill establishes the Nigerian Hunters Service to prevent and combat forest crimes and enhance security within Nigerian forests. Other functions of the Service include prevention of bush and forest fires; investigation and arrest of persons suspected to be involved in criminal activities within the forests and handing them over to the Police. In furtherance of this objective, the Service will have an Armed Squad that will be allowed to bear firearms. The Service will have its headquarters in the Federal Capital Territory and have offices in all the States, Local Government Areas and Area Councils of the Federation.
The affairs of the Nigerian Hunters and Forest Security Service will be under the control of the Immigration and Prisons Services Board established under the Immigration and Prisons Services Board Act 1986 (as amended). The Service will have a Commander-General appointed by the President subject to Senate confirmation, who will serve for a term of 4 years which is renewable once. Also, it will comprise volunteers, regular members, officers and other ranks. The NHFSS will be funded by budgetary allocations and subventions from the Federal Government and other sums that accrue to it.
This bill dissolves the existing Nigerian Hunters Group and vests the Nigerian Hunters and Forest Security Service with the assets, funds, rights, interests, obligations and liabilities of the dissolved Group.
The Senate Committee on Interior, in its report on the bill, which was earlier referred to it, stated that there was need to harmonise all hunters’ groups and associations into a framework to foster accountability of activities within the country’s forests landscape. It also added that it was important to develop a multi-sectorial approach to address current trend of insecurity especially within the forest arears, which have been known to be the hideouts of criminal elements.