Nigeria: Bill on wildlife management, conservation scales second reading

May 18, 2024 | News

By EricJames Ochigbo, EnviroNews Nigeria

A bill for an act to provide for the Conservation and Management of Nigeria’s Wildlife on Thursday, May 16, 2024, scaled second reading in the House of Representatives.

This followed the presentation of the general principles of the bill by the sponsor, Rep. Terseer Ugbor, at plenary.

Presenting the bill, Ugbor said that it was targeted at pressing challenges such as illegal wildlife trade, habitat loss and the decline of Nigeria’s unique wildlife populations.

He said that the bill sought to improve the capabilities of law enforcement agencies, give investigators more powers to look into financial matters.

“When passed it will empower enforcement agencies to conduct operations guided by intelligence and enable judges to speed up wildlife cases and recover assets,” he said.

The lawmaker said that the bill aligned with international treaties, as well as sought to encourage global cooperation.

“Today, we take a bold stand against all illegal activities targeting our wildlife and forests; by protecting our wildlife, we protect our own future.

“This bill signifies our collective commitment to turn the tide against the use of our borders to traffic illegal wildlife products such as pangolin scales and elephant ivory.

“A combination of lack of public awareness, weak legislation, and minimal enforcement has hindered efforts to combat wildlife trafficking and biodiversity loss in Nigeria.

“As a result, Nigeria’s wildlife has declined massively, with species like lions, elephants, gorillas, and chimpanzees driven to the verge of extinction,” he said.

In his ruling, the Deputy Speaker, Rep. Benjamin Kalu, referred the bill to House Committee on Environment and Treaty and Protocol for further legislative actions.

Reacting to the development in a joint statement, stakeholders expressed hope for the conservation of endangered wildlife in Nigeria.

Mr Tunde Morakinyo, the Executive Director of Africa Nature Investors Foundation (ANI), commended the house of the swift passage of the bill for second reading.

He said that the second reading of the bill was a testament to the determination of the Nigerian people through their elected representatives to stop the illegal wildlife trade in the country.

“ANI Foundation salutes the House of Representatives and Rep. Terseer Ugbor for exceptional leadership in this process which will make Nigeria emerge a global leader in the fight to end wildlife trafficking in Africa,” Morakinyo said.

Also, Ms Mary Rice, the Executive Director of Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) a UK-based wildlife agency, welcomed the progress made through this second reading.

She said that effective enforcement without robust laws was virtually impossible, commending Nigeria for recognising the urgency to enact a legislation.

Rice said that the bill, when passed into law, would support regional and international obligations to protect Africa’s wildlife.

The Chief Executive Office of Wild Africa Fund (WAF), Mr Peter Knights, said that the bill, when passed into law, would greatly enhance Nigeria’s ability to fight wildlife crime.

He expressed hope that the law can be swiftly enacted as the bill proceeds to committee hearings for additional review and public input.

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