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Gain for Nigerian Wildlife as Wildlife Protection Bill passes First Reading

The House of Representatives on 26 February,2024 passed the
Nigeria Wildlife Protection Bill for First Reading, thereby signaling the country’s commitment to meet it’s obligations in protection of endangered species.

Prepared by the Federal Ministry of Environment and sponsored by Hon. Terseer Ugbor, the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Environment, the Bill seeks to tackle wildlife trafficking, protect endangered species, and ensure the nation comply with global conservation treaties

It would further disrupt and deter illegal wildlife trade within the country by enhancing law enforcement capabilities, increasing investigative powers to include financial enquiries and intelligence-led operations, as well as expands courts’ ability to expedite wildlife cases and recover assets. It also creates corporate liability, supports international cooperation and imposes stringent penalties for traffickers and poachers.

Happy over the development, Hon. Ugbor stated that “Wildlife trafficking is not just a crime against nature; it is a threat to our planet’s delicate balance. This Bill ensures that we act decisively to protect and preserve these irreplaceable components of our natural heritage, recognizing our responsibility to future generations. “

“This legislation is not just about what happens within these legislative walls; it’s about a collective effort. In the face of escalating environmental challenges, this bill is a beacon of hope. It reflects our commitment to a sustainable future, where humans and wildlife coexist harmoniously. Let us pass this legislation for the sake of our planet, for the generations to come, and for the preservation of Nigeria’s natural heritage.”

“If enacted, the legislation would bring Nigeria in line with international standards and agreements. By aligning domestic legislation with global treaties and conventions, Nigeria demonstrates its commitment to being a responsible and active participant in the global effort to tackle wildlife trafficking and protect endangered species such as lions, elephants, gorillas, pangolins, chimpanzees and many more.”

According to a release shared by the Wild Africa Fund (WAF),Nigeria Representative, Mr.Festus Iyorah, Africa Nature Investors Foundation (ANI), the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and WAF have been actively supporting the Nigerian Government’s efforts to fight illegal wildlife trafficking, with support from the UK Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund and the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.

Speaking, Tunde Morakinyo, ANI Executive Director, opined that “The enactment of this landmark bill will strengthen efforts to address wildlife crime in Nigeria and its reintroduction in the House of Representatives attests to the resolve of the Nigerian government to find a lasting solution to the problem. ANI Foundation will continue to work with its partners to support its swift enactment.”

On her part, Mary Rice, Executive Director of EIA UK stated that “Criminal justice responses against wildlife trafficking can only succeed within the framework of robust legislation, enabling investigators, prosecutors and the judiciary to deliver justice. EIA is proud to have supported the development of this Bill so far, and urges Nigerian lawmakers to see through its enactment without delay.”
WAF CEO Peter Knights added: “If passed swiftly, this state-of-the-art legislation will make Nigeria the regional leader it needs to be in fighting wildlife crime and help wildlife across the African continent.”

The Endangered Species Conservation and Protection Bill will proceed to hearings and subsequent readings, for further scrutiny from lawmakers and public input.

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