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. “By working together, we will make more rapid progress in eliminating, neutralizing, and disrupting wildlife trafficking,” she said. “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.
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,” she added, “for the significant seizures of pangolin scales and ivory, as well as arrests, made in July and January this year.”
ANI Executive Director Tunde Morakinyo added, “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.