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Wildlife Protection Bill Passes First Reading

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By Abiodun Okunloye

Nigeria to curb Illegal trade in wildlife, adhering to international standards.

The bill for Wildlife Protection in Nigeria has successfully undergone its first reading in the House of Representatives. The Africa Nature Investors Foundation (ANI), the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) based in London, and the Wild Africa Fund (WAF) issued a collaborative statement remarking on the bill proposed by Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Environment and championed by Hon. Terseer Ugbor, Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Environment. The bill was described as a significant upgrade to existing legislation that would bring about notable enhancements.

This proposed legislation is designed to address the issue of illegal trade in wildlife, safeguard endangered animal species, and guarantee that Nigeria adheres to international agreements focused on preserving the environment. The new provisions in the bill aim to strengthen law enforcement efforts against illegal wildlife trade by improving investigative abilities, including financial inquiries and intelligence-driven operations. Additionally, the courts will have increased powers to adjudicate wildlife cases and seize assets swiftly. The bill also introduces corporate liability, fosters global collaboration, and enforces harsh penalties for offenders involved in trafficking and poaching activities.

Illegal trafficking poses a significant danger to the planet.

Ugbor emphasises that wildlife trafficking poses a significant danger to the fragile balance of the planet, not just to nature itself. The passing of this bill is a crucial step towards safeguarding these invaluable elements of the environment for generations to come. It is a reminder that the impact of this legislation extends far beyond the confines of legislative chambers, requiring a united front in the protection of our natural heritage. This legislation shines as a ray of hope amidst the worsening environmental crises.

Approval of this legislation would show the dedication to creating a sustainable future for both humans and wildlife. They must push for this bill to protect Nigeria’s natural heritage and ensure a sustainable environment for those coming later. By passing this legislation, Nigeria would align itself with global norms and agreements, setting a strong precedent for conservation efforts worldwide. Nigeria solidifies its dedication to combatting trafficking and safeguarding endangered species like lions, elephants, gorillas, pangolins, chimpanzees, and others by harmonising local laws with international agreements and treaties.

Significant support has been received in combating the challenge.

Further in the statement, it was revealed that the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Africa Nature Investors Foundation (ANI), as well as the Wild Africa Fund (WAF), are noted to have played a significant role in assisting the Nigerian government in combatting illegal animal trafficking. This support is made possible through funding from the UK Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund and the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. All those significantly helped the country reach its goal.

Tunde Morakinyo, the ANI Executive Director, emphasised the importance of the new bill for combating such crime in Nigeria. The decision to reintroduce it in the House of Representatives reflects the government’s determination to tackle the issue effectively. ANI Foundation is committed to collaborating with partners to ensure the bill is quickly enacted. Mary Rice, the Executive Director of EIA UK, emphasised the importance of strong legislation in combating trafficking. She expressed pride in EIA’s support of the Bills’ development and urged Nigerian lawmakers to enact them promptly for effective criminal justice responses.

Related Article: Conservation of Nigerian forests and wildlife

On his part, Peter Knights, who is the CEO of the World Animal Foundation (WAF), expressed his belief that if this cutting-edge legislation is quickly approved, Nigeria will emerge as a frontrunner in combating wildlife crime and supporting the protection of these animal lives throughout Africa. The statement also revealed details that the bill for the conservation and protection of endangered species would undergo thorough examination during hearings and subsequent readings with participation from lawmakers and the public.

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