The United States (U.S) Embassy has said that Nigeria has emerged as the main transit and export hub for trafficking wildlife, especially in elephant ivory and pangolin scales.
The embassy made this known in a statement on Thursday saying it entered into a partnership with two agencies, the Africa Nature Investors Foundation (ANI) and Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) to launch a groundbreaking resource, Combating Wildlife Crime in Nigeria – An analysis of the Criminal Justice Legislative Framework.
Nigeria’s Minister of State for Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, represented by National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency Director General Aliyu Jauro, was chairman of the launch.
Charge d’Affaires of the U.S, Kathleen FitzGibbon in her remarks, stressed the critical need for greater communication and collaboration between investigative, prosecutorial, and judicial bodies to bring about quicker justice and sentences which hold violators accountable.
“By working together, we will make more rapid progress in eliminating, neutralizing, and disrupting wildlife trafficking.
“We need to do more to raise public indignation about this ugly crime that imperils the planet’s biodiversity, funds organized crime, spreads disease like COVID-19, and threatens the very existence of Nigeria’s unique and beautiful animals,” she said.
FitzGibbon assured that the in-depth analysis of the country’s relevant laws aims to help turn the tide.
In she her remark, the EIA Executive Director, Mary Rice explained, “The networks responsible for trafficking wildlife from Nigeria are organized and well-coordinated, but the law enforcement response is fragmented and weak. This legal analysis recommends a coordinated multi-agency approach to strategically disrupt wildlife crime networks.
“We commend the Nigeria Customs Service for the significant seizures of pangolin scales and ivory, as well as arrests, made in July and January this year.”
Executive Director of ANI, Tunde Morakinyo added her voice to the campaign; “For too long, Nigeria has been rapidly losing its precious biodiversity to crime and corruption. The legal analysis launched today highlights concrete actions that we can adopt to protect our last remaining wild species and places for the present and future generations of Nigerians.”
Senior representatives from key Nigerian government agencies and offices with the mandate to tackle wildlife trafficking, including the Nigerian Customs Service, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, Nigerian Senate, Attorney General’s Office, National Judicial Institute, National Police, National Parks Service, Department of Forestry, and National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency attended the event.