Sun. Sep 19th, 2021

The. U.S. Embassy in partnership with the Africa Nature Investors Foundation (ANI) and Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has launched the groundbreaking resource for Combating Wildlife Crime in Nigeria, an Analysis of the Criminal Justice Legislative Framework.

The Honourable Minister of State for Environment Sharon Ikeazor, represented by National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency Director General Aliyu Jauro, chaired the launch.

The event was hosted by the Africa Nature Investors Foundation (ANI) and Environmental Investigations Agency (EIA) UK in Collaboration with the US Embassy in Nigeria and the UN Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) held at the Sheraton Hotel, Abuja.

U.S. Embassy Charge d’Affaires Kathleen FitzGibbon welcomed participants to the event and emphasized 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.

She said the aim was to Launch the Analysis of the Legal Framework for Combating Wildlife Crimes as well as to analyse some mandates between different agencies in tackling Wildlife Crimes and to find remedy to improve Inter-agency Cooperation to increase arrests, investigation and prosecution of Wildlife Criminals in Nigeria.

“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.

“Nigeria has emerged as the main transit and export hub for trafficking in elephant ivory, pangolin scales, and other wildlife, but the in-depth analysis of the country’s relevant laws aims to help turn the tide,” she said.

EIA Executive Director Mary Rice explained that the networks responsible for trafficking wildlife from Nigeria are organized and well-coordinated, but the law enforcement response is fragmented and weak.

According to him, the legal analysis recommends a coordinated multi-agency approach to strategically disrupt wildlife crime networks in the country.

“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,” she said.

ANI Executive Director Tunde Morakinyo added that 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.”

The event was attended by 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.

Also in attendance was the Executive Director of ANI, Charge d’ Affaires of the Embassy of the US (Deputy Head of US Mission); Mrs Kathleen Fitzbone, High Commissions of the UK, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy Country Representative of the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), Wildlife Policy Coordinator @ ANI. (NAN)

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