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Nigeria Wildlife Protection Bill Passes First Reading

New bill aims to tackle wildlife trafficking, protect endangered species, and ensure Nigerian compliance with global conservation treaties.

Today a new Endangered Species Conservation and Protection Bill had its first reading in Nigeria’s House of Representatives.

The Bill, prepared by Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Environment and sponsored by Hon. Terseer Ugbor, the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Environment, would update and greatly improve current laws. It would further disrupt and deter illegal wildlife trade within the country by enhancing law enforcement capabilities, increase investigative powers to include financial enquiries and intelligence-led operations, and expand 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.

Hon. Ugbor expressed enthusiasm about the Bill’s passage, stating: “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, recognising 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.”

Africa Nature Investors Foundation (ANI), the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Wild Africa (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.

Tunde Morakinyo, ANI Executive Director, said: “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.”

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.”

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