Dr Kelechi Okezie, an environmental expert has advocated for tougher sanction against open defecation and other practices that posed environmental hazards in Ebonyi.
Okezie, founder and Executive Director of the Neighborhood Environment Watch -Foundation (NEW-F) made the call in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abakaliki.
Okezie noted that the rate at which people engaged in the practice was assuming an alarming dimension in parts of the state including the state capital.
He said that the practice was not restricted to Ebonyi and therefore, called on governments at various levels to impose stiffer penalties on offenders.
The environmentalist called for strict enforcement of the extant laws that protected the environment from abuse and degradation.
He said that human dungs released through open defecation were washed into the streams and rivers which lead to air, water and environmental pollution with attendant health implication.
He said: “There are environmental laws that regulate or impose penalties on open defecation.
“There are environment health officers who are empowered to monitor and enforce extant environmental laws and other environmental related issues in the state.
“Government should strengthen the powers of the environmental health officers to enhance effective and optimal service delivery.
“Government should also set up an environmental task force to complement the efforts of the environmental health officers to ensure a total war against open defecation.
“The task force should be charged with powers to arrest and prosecute offenders of open defecation.’’
Okezie insisted that the bulk of responsibility in the fight ensure a healthy environment and eradicate open defecation lied with the government.
“Government has a greater responsibility in the quest to achieve a cleaner, better and zero open defecation environment by ensuring that offenders are tried and sentenced.
“There should be mobile courts and Special tribunals that should be saddled with the power to try suspects.
“All residential and commercial buildings without approved and functional toilet facilities should be sealed and owners of such buildings arrested and prosecuted in special courts set up by law to try environmental offenders.
“Markets, motor parks, churches and other public buildings should be fitted with functional approved toilet facilities.
“Government and private individuals should provide commercial mobile toilets to enhance quick access to those who are in transit and in need of convenience to ease themselves,” Okezie said.
He urged those with unfenced undeveloped landed property within the capital city to develop or fence them to discourage people from defecating in those places.
The environmental called for the reintroduction of the disbanded Ebonyi State Environmental Protection Agency (EBSEPA) to coordinate activities aimed at eliminating all environmental abuses and degradation.