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Nigeria’s wildlife protection bill passes second reading

The bill addresses wildlife trafficking, habitat destruction and proposes strict penalties for offenders.

On the 16th of May, the Endangered Species Conservation and Protection Bill successfully passed its second reading in the House of Representatives in Nigeria. 

Championed by Hon. Terseer Ugbor, the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Environment, the bill takes aim at pressing challenges such as illegal wildlife trade, habitat loss and the decline of Nigeria’s unique wildlife populations. 

The bill seeks to improve the capabilities of law enforcement agencies, give investigators more powers to look into financial matters and conduct operations guided by intelligence, and enable judges to speed up wildlife cases and recover assets. Additionally, it aligns with international treaties, encourages global cooperation and introduces strict penalties for poachers and traffickers. 

The bill addresses wildlife challenges and proposes strict penalties for offenders

“Today, we take a bold stand against all illegal activities targeting our wildlife and forests,” said Hon. Ugbor. “By protecting our wildlife, we protect our own future. This bill signifies our collective commitment to turn the tide against the use of our borders to traffic illegal wildlife products such as pangolin scales and elephant ivory.” 

A combination of lack of public awareness, weak legislation, and minimal enforcement has hindered efforts to combat wildlife trafficking and biodiversity loss in Nigeria. As a result, Nigeria’s wildlife has declined massively, with species like lions, elephants, gorillas, and chimpanzees driven to the verge of extinction. 

Nigeria commits to turning the tide against the use of its borders to traffic illegal wildlife products

Africa Nature Investors Foundation (ANI), the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), and the Wild Africa (WAF) have been actively supporting the Nigerian government’s efforts to combat 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 second reading of the bill in the House of Representatives is further testament to the determination of the Nigerian people through their elected representatives to stop the illegal wildlife trade in the country. ANI Foundation salutes the House of Representatives and Hon. Terseer Ugbor for exceptional leadership in this process which will make Nigeria emerge a global leader in the fight to end wildlife trafficking in Africa.”

With its incredible biodiversity, Nigeria can lead the fight to safeguard wildlife and protect its natural heritage

Mary Rice, Executive Director of EIA UK, welcomed the progress made through this second reading. “Effective enforcement without robust laws is virtually impossible. EIA commends Nigeria for recognising the urgency to enact this important legislation to support its regional and international obligations to protect Africa’s wildlife”.

WAF CEO Peter Knights added: “This legislation will greatly enhance Nigeria’s ability to fight wildlife crime and we hope it can be swiftly enacted.” 

The Endangered Species Conservation and Protection Bill will proceed to committee hearings for additional review and public input.