Premium Times (Nigeria)

The federal government has initiated investigations into the alleged
trafficking of over 2,500 kilograms of Pangolin Scales and 600 kilograms of
Ivory Tusks seized by the Vietnamese Customs Service?.

The Minister of Environment, Suleiman Zarma, disclosed this in a statement
issued in Abuja on Wednesday by Mr Saghir el-Mohammed, Director of Press,
Federal Ministry of Environment.

Mr Zarma also ordered investigations into the alleged trafficking of 8,200
kilograms of Pangolin Scales and 2,000 kilograms of Ivory Tusks seized by
the Hong Kong Custom Service.

The minister said that the investigation was necessary because illegal
wildlife trafficking was alleged to have originated from the Apapa,
Seaport, Lagos, Nigeria.

Mr Zarma was reacting to media reports on the seized items, which were said
to have high market values, especially for the use of the Pangolin scales
as medicinal ingredients in parts of Asia, especially China.

“The ministry has initiated investigations of the reported illegal trade
by communicating officially with the Vietnamese and Hong Kong CITES
Management Authority, with a view to furnishing us with the documents that
will be forwarded to the Nigerian Customs Service and INTERPOL for further

“It is very unsettling when information is received that the Vietnamese
customs made the discovery in concealed containers declared as consigning
knocked wood by the Vietnamese company ? VIC Thanh Binh Import-Export
Company Limited with office address at Lien Hong Commune, Dan Phuong
District, Hanoi.

“More disturbing is the fact that Nigeria is mentioned as the source in
spite of our laudable conservation efforts which informed our leading the
war against illegal wildlife trade in the West African Region,” he said.

According to him, the source cannot have been Nigeria as pangolins are near
extinction in the country.

He added that the elephant population in Nigeria, besides being under
strict conservation regimes, would not be able to provide such high volume
of Ivory.

“Nigeria is being used as a transit route for illegal wildlife trade and
the image of our nation is being tarnished globally,” the minister said.

He restated the federal government?s commitment to the fight against
illegal wildlife trade, saying that Nigeria signed and ratified the
Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna
and Flora (CITES) in 1974.

According to him, Nigeria promulgated the Endangered Species (Control of
International Trade and Traffic) Decree No.11 in 1985 now enacted as
Endangered Species Act 2016 to give municipal credence to this Convention.

?Pangolin and elephants are highly protected and endangered species and
listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) as well as on Schedule I of the
National Endangered Species Act, 2016.

?Export of wild fauna and flora from Nigeria are covered by CITES

?CITES is the pre-eminent global legal instrument for regulating
international trade in wild animals and plant,?? Mr Zarma said.

According to him, it has the objective of ensuring that International trade
in wild fauna and flora do not compromise the protection of endangered
species, hence the illegal trade in this species and its derivatives are
absolutely prohibited.

Mr Zarma, therefore, re-affirmed his ministry?s role as a focal point of
CITES implementation and its commitment to conserving wild species, which
he observed were now almost driven into extinction due to
over-exploitation, habitat change and illicit trafficking.

?It is in view of the above that there has not been any case of illegal
wildlife trade from Nigeria as a source country.

“However, globalisation allows and encourages International trade, which
traffickers have exploited and exposed us to some of these unwholesome
practices which we frown at as a nation and defender of endangered
species,” the minister said.