Posts Tagged ‘Benin City’

Andy Enahire

Andy Enahire

By VICTOR NZE

Management of the Ogba Zoo and Nature Park, in Benin City, Edo State, has called on the state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, to intervene over what it described as the destruction of the company’s facilities by vandals in addition to the ‘conversion of the land for private development.’

This is also as the zoo’s management accused some members of the state House of assembly, in their individual capacities, of complicity and for being responsible for acts which it said were ‘in violation of a subsisting Arbitration judgement.’

During a media conference called by the firm, Wednesday, at its facility in Benin City, Director/CEO of the Ogba Zoo & Nature Park, Mr. Andy Osa Ehanire, also urged Governor Obaseki to set up a panel to investigate the circumstances surrounding the loss of nearly 70 per cent of the company’s land to land grabbers.

“We seek the intervention of His Excellency the Governor of Edo State, to set up a special investigative panel to look into the destruction of the Zoo Staff quarters and the conversion of the land for private development, in violation of a subsisting Arbitration judgement.

“This investigation should naturally extend to the scandalous incursions and destruction of nearly 70 per cent of the zoo, since we currently hold the unenviable record of being the most vandalized Zoo in Nigeria. We have absolute confidence in the integrity of the Governor to do justice to these disturbing issues plaguing Ogba Zoo, as only a panel set up by the Governor can guarantee neutrality, rather than the intended investigation by the House of Assembly,” said Ehanire.

Ehanire who said the  call for the state governor’s intervention followed a petition recently tabled before the state House of Assembly which accused it of trading off all the animals kept in its custody, thereby seeking an investigation of the zoo management by the lawmakers.

“It was alleged in the so-called petition that the Zoo animals had all been traded off and that the Zoo is now worse off from our management intervention, so much so that we are to be subjected to an investigation. It was expected that at the receipt of such a petition, the Honourable House would seek to bring such to the attention of the Zoo Management, being partners in progress, since the Zoo is a foremost tourism asset of the State, as well as a conservation heritage.

“We would have expected that the Honourable House would have even brought the petition to the State’s Ministry of Environment that has competency as a regulatory authority over the Zoo. We would have expected to be invited by the appropriate Committee of the House in charge of Tourism or Environment to underscore a latent consummation of liaison and synergy.

“We were not accorded any of these privileges stated above or even the benefit of doubt, but these disturbing issues were thrown into the public domain to the effect of misleading the public as to the State’s tourism standing and creating a negative or perverted image that has caused severe harm to the Zoo, its Management and its clientele. Schools on excursion, as well as other visitors come daily from as far as Delta, Bayelsa, Anambra, Ondo and Kogi States, on account of this facility that provides conservation education and recreation to children, scholars, our teeming youths and those of all ages; so such negative signal being put out in the public domain will unwittingly dissuade them from this important tourism circuit, thus causing further stress to the economy of Edo State,” he said.

According to Ehanire, the Ogba Zoo, as a privately managed facility, was ‘rescued by us after it had suffered prolonged atrophy and extensive decay under Government, we can at least reveal that all the physical improvements and animal collections in the Zoo now are all from private efforts and not what can be brought under any charge of misappropriation or mismanagement of any kind.’

On his frustration with the lawmakers over the problem of land-grabbers, Ehanire said: “It is a common charge we make that zoos lack institutional support in this clime, as the Ogba Zoo has been thoroughly vandalized by land grabbers in recent years and we have not received any solution from this honourable House. Rather, this House spent more than three years (2012 -2015) investigating the demolition of some illegal structures on the Zoo land and at the end of it all, the Zoo lost almost 70per cent of its entire expanse to land grabbers, only for some of its Members to be found to be complicit in the very same act.”