A new bill aimed at combating wildlife trafficking, safeguarding endangered species, and ensuring Nigeria’s compliance with global conservation treaties had its inaugural reading in the House of Representatives today.

Wildlife
Wildlife

Proposed by Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Environment and sponsored by Hon. Terseer Ugbor, the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Environment, the Endangered Species Conservation and Protection Bill seeks to update and significantly enhance existing laws.

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The bill aims to disrupt and discourage illegal wildlife trade within the country by strengthening law enforcement capabilities, expanding investigative powers, including financial inquiries and intelligence-led operations, and granting courts broader authority to expedite wildlife cases and recover assets.

Additionally, it introduces corporate liability, promotes international cooperation, and imposes strict penalties for traffickers and poachers.

Hon. Ugbor expressed optimism about the bill’s passage, emphasizing the global importance of combating wild life trafficking.

He stated, “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.”

The legislation reflects Nigeria’s commitment to international standards and agreements in the fight against wildlife trafficking. If enacted, it aligns domestic legislation with global treaties and conventions, demonstrating Nigeria’s dedication to being a responsible participant in the global effort to protect endangered species.

Organizations such as the Africa Nature Investors Foundation (ANI), the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), and the Wild Africa Fund (WAF) have actively supported the Nigerian Government’s endeavors to combat illegal wildlife trafficking.

Their efforts, backed by the UK Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund and the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, aim to address wildlife crime and protect species like lions, elephants, gorillas, pangolins, chimpanzees, and more.

Tunde Morakinyo, ANI Executive Director, highlighted the bill’s significance in strengthening efforts against wild life crime in Nigeria, emphasizing ANI Foundation’s commitment to supporting its swift enactment.

Mary Rice, Executive Director of EIA UK, stressed the importance of robust legislation in combating wild life trafficking, expressing EIA’s pride in supporting the bill’s development. WAF CEO Peter Knights noted that swift passage of the legislation would position Nigeria as a regional leader in fighting wild life crime across the African continent.

The Endangered Species Conservation and Protection Bill will proceed to hearings and subsequent readings for further examination by lawmakers and public input.

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