By Okechukwu Nnodim, Punch
A total of 2,972 pieces of elephant tusks and ivories have been seized from smugglers as part of measures to halt the international trade in endangered species, the Federal Government has said.
It said the seizures were done to protect endangered animals in Nigeria, adding that a lot of non-elephant ivories were also seized by the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency.
It disclosed this in a document obtained by our correspondent in Abuja on Wednesday from NESREA, the arm of the Federal Ministry of Environment that enforces environmental laws in Nigeria.
Data contained in the document, entitled, “The workings of NESREA,” showed that some endangered birds were also seized by the government from traffickers recently.
The Director-General, NESREA, Prof. Aliyu Jauro, explained in the document that the seizures were in accordance with the implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of fauna and flora.
He said Nigeria was a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
“This convention seeks to protect endangered species and was domesticated in Nigeria by the enactment of Endangered Species (Control of International Trade and Traffic) (Amendment) Act, 2016,” Jauro stated.
He added, “In enforcing this convention, several seizures of CITES specimen such as elephant tusk, worked, semi worked ivory, pangolin scales, rhino horn, etc, have been made in collaboration with relevant enforcement agencies such as the Nigerian Customs Service, National Centre Bureau Interpol.
“Presently, about 2,972 pieces of elephant tusks and ivories weighing 1,3851.55kg, as well as 74 pieces of non-elephant ivories weighing 98.50kg and 27 sacks plus leather bag weighing 290.05kg are in the agency’s custody as seized items.”
The NESREA boss said culprits of these items had been prosecuted by the agency in the court of law.
Jauro further stated that some months back, the agency carried out an enforcement exercise in the Jabi area of the Federal Capital Territory where endangered birds were seized from wildlife traffickers.
“The birds were taken to National Park Services while the traffickers were apprehended and made to face the law,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Jauro noted that the poor state of enforcement infrastructure and the incessant delays of environmental crime cases in courts were major obstacles militating against the clampdown on wildlife traffickers.