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FG begins investigation in case of alleged Pangoline scales trafficking

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, Alhaji Suleiman Zarma, disclosed
this in a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday by Saghir el-Mohammed,
Director of Press, Federal Ministry of Environment.
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 were alleged to have originated from
the Apapa Seaport, Lagos, Nigeria.
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.
He said: “‎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 investigations.
“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.’’
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.
He said: “Nigeria is being used as a transit route for
illegal wildlife trade and the image of our nation is being tarnished globally.”
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 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.
Zarma said: “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 as well as on Schedule I of
the National Endangered Species Act, 2016.
He said: “Export of wild fauna and flora from Nigeria are
covered by CITES Permit/Certificates.
“CITES is the pre-eminent global legal instrument for
regulating international trade in wild animals and plant.”
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.
Zarma, therefore, re-affirmed his ministry’s role as focal
point of CITES implementation and its commitment to conserve wild species,
which he observed were now almost driven into extinction due to over
exploitation, habitat change and illicit trafficking.
He added: “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

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