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FG prosecutes Chinese firms destroying environment




THE Minister of Environment, Surveyor Suleiman Zarma on Tuesday says the Federal Government is currently prosecuting Chinese firms identified for destroying the nation’s environments.

The Minister disclosed this during a valedictory ministerial briefing held in Abuja to showcase the ministry’s achievements in the past four years.

The ICIR had earlier reported stories on how Chinese firms arbitrarily destroy the environments, felling of trees without permit for charcoal production and a similar case in Ondo marble producing community where exploration is being carried out without due process.

Zarma said though Nigerians are also involved in degrading the environment, the federal government through the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) is prosecuting those flouting the environmental laws stressing that some of the firms have been sealed off.

“We are also responsible for degrading our environment so we should not just pretend about it. We are also involved. The question to ask is what we are doing to remediate our environment?” says Zarma.

“We have NESREA. They are running after these people where they have been identified. Some of them are undergoing prosecution now; some of the sites are sealed and so on and so forth. NESREA is taking charge of that affair.”

Speaking on reoccurring cases of illegal trafficking of endangered species such as Pangolin, Minister categorically debunked the claims that the pangolin seizures originated from Nigeria.

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Zarma said on the contrary, as believed by nations such as Singapore and Vietnam, Nigeria neither has pangolins nor make use of the endangered species in any form.

“Nigeria is not a pangolin nation. So Nigeria is just being used as a transit route. We have made efforts to even ask the authorities of where the seizures were made to give us the addresses of the agencies that transported the pangolin so that we can close in on them and find out who their sponsors are. But I tell you the fact, Nigeria is not a Pangolin nation, it’s just a transit route,” says Zarma.

The ICIR had also reported cases of trafficked pangolins having allegedly originated from the Apapa port in Lagos.

However, he disclosed on-going efforts to minimise the situation through partnerships with the Interpol, Nigerian Customs Service and Port Authorities.

“We are collaborating with all agencies and Interpol, port authorities, customs and so on to make sure that this thing is minimised.”

According to him, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had to interject by procuring more sophisticated scanners for the NCS in order to check the trend.

“Lastly, two FEC meetings away, we sat to approve the procurement of bigger scanners for the Nigerian customs so that they can easily detect some of these scales. These scales are bigger than fish scales and difficult to see by physical inspection, especially if its night…..even though the number is high and depending on the packaging…… we don’t use it, we don’t have it so where does it come from?”

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Listing some of the ministry’s achievements, he said the ministry was able to rake in N8 billion to the coffers of the federal government through sustainable management of wood exports and other products.

Also, he said the Ogoni clean-up has commenced with 21 companies partaking in the remediation exercise; the green bond as well as the afforestation programme in the 11 frontline states where livelihoods of affected communities are improved upon.

“The companies involved in Ogoni are 21. The 16 were earlier cleared to the site but the threshold had to go to the FEC so we have 16 and 5. We have 21 companies working now.”

Author profile

Olugbenga heads the Investigations Desk at The ICIR. Do you have a scoop? Shoot him an email at oadanikin@icirnigeria.org. Twitter Handle: @OluAdanikin

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