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Wildlife Protection Bill Scales First Reading

By Our Reporter

A Bill that aim to tackle wildlife trafficking, protect endangered species, and ensure Nigerian compliance with global conservation treaties has scaled through first reading at the House of Representatives.

Titled ‘Endangered Species Conservation and Protection Bill, was prepared by the Federal Ministry of Environment and sponsored by Hon. Terseer Ugbor, the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Environment.

When it finally becomes a law of the land, it’s capable of not only updating but it will greatly improve on the current laws on protection of wildlife in the country.

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 will also creates corporate liability, supports international cooperation and imposes stringent penalties for wildlife traffickers and poachers.

Reacting to the Bill’s passage, it’s sponsor, Terseer Ugbor expressed enthusiasm about the passage saying, “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.”

Tunde Morakinyo, Executive Director, Nature Investors Foundation (ANI), the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Wild Africa Fund (WAF), described the first passage of the Bill as a “ landmark action that will address wildlife crime in Nigeria,” adding that ANI Foundation will continue to work with its partners in Nigeria to support the Bill’s swift enactment.

Mary Rice, Executive Director of EIA UK stated, “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.”

 

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