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Wildlife and forest crimes in Nigeria

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By Mercy Kelani

Newly launched guide will help prosecutors build a case against wildlife crimes.

Recently, the Ministry of Environment in joint collaboration stakeholders launched a Rapid Reference Guide to aid the fight against wildlife and forest crimes in Nigeria. The guide is majorly for prosecutors and investigators to combat illegal wildlife trade with the aim of resolving, conserving, restoring and sustainably managing the wildlife and biological resources of the country. The guide would help prosecutors to create evidence for filing cases against those accused of wildlife and forest crimes; it would also help to tackle climate change problems.

According to the Minister of Environment, Mr. Mohammed Abdullahi, objectives embedded in the guide would enhance international cooperation and coordination among law enforcement agencies to boost the knowledge of prosecutors on how to address issues related to wildlife and forest. Prior to this moment, the Nigerian government has taken impressive measures to combat illegal wildlife trade, some of which include “the watching and implementation of the national strategy to combat illegal wildlife trade; coordination of the wildlife Enforcement Task Force; launching of the National Park Forest policy by legality standards.”

Wildlife crimes limits the government’s efforts to conserve wildlife.

Abdullahi added that the Nigerian government has shown commitment in its implementation and adherence to the laws and regulations of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). It has as well kept to honoring global agreements, treaties and conventions. The Director of Forestry Ministry of Environment affirmed the challenging nature of wildlife crime in Nigeria as it has limited the efforts of the government and partners in achieving sustainable forest management.

Represented by Mr. Razak Adekola, the forestry Director stressed the impossibility of human’s isolation from nature as the ecosystem, economies and societies share solid interconnectivity. Recognition of the guide would raise awareness in every part of the country on the need for conservation of the country’s severely endangered species. Sustainable management protein system biodiversity would also be encouraged to foster a balanced ecosystem. The guide would also be responsible for proffering guidance to judicial officers and justice systems concerning wildlife material.

Nigeria is a major destination for international illegal wildlife trade.

In response to measures taken to ensure wildlife conservation, the Assistant Conservator General of the National Parks Service, Dr. Mohammed Kabir, stated that the service was putting its best into protection and preservation of wildlife and their habitats in the national parks. He added that there would be more efficiency in management of the biodiversity in national parks. This is because the government has established ten national parks besides the existing seven national parks; now, national parks in the country are seventeen. In all the national parks, the service is committed to eschewing negative activities.

Representing the German government, Mr. Matthias Dold emphasized the importance of combating wildlife and forest crimes. He added that over the last decade, Nigeria has served as a major destination for international illegal wildlife trade — a practice Nigerians suffer from the most. According to Mr. Dold, the National Strategy to Combat Wildlife and Forest Crime in Nigeria 2022-2026 would help to strengthen the legal framework for prevention, interdiction, detection, investigation and prosecution of wildlife and forest crimes. This strategy has achieved a headway with the help of UNODC, supported by the German government.

UNODC assured Nigeria of its support and commitment.

Country representative of UNODC, Mr. Oliver Stolp, assured Nigeria of the financial support of Germany, the UK, the US and the European Union (EU) as they support a number of projects and initiatives, including UNODC-implemented ones. Head of UNODC, Global Programme for Crimes, Hanny Cueva-Beteta, likewise emphasized the serious threat wildlife crimes pose to biodiversity economy and sustainable development in Nigeria. Research also has it that Nigeria has been a transit country. However, she assured Nigeria of the UNODC’s commitment to work with Nigeria towards improvement of the Rapid Reference Guide.

Related Link

UNODC: Website

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