Udora Orizu in Abuja
The Minister of Environment, Alhaji Suleiman Zarma, has handed over six forensic toolkits to the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to detect and identify the source of illegal wildlife trade in the country. Zarma, who gave the toolkits to the Deputy Comptroller of NCS, Mr. Hammi Swomen, in Abuja, said the equipment would also identify the fingerprints of those responsible for illegal smuggling of ivory. The minister noted that the fight to stem illegal trafficking of wildlife fauna and flora from and through the country was a collective one.
He stated that international trade in ivory was banned in 1989, adding that since then, there had been a burgeoning illegal trade, which is greatly contributing to the “But I must say that Nigeria has been able to curtail activities of illegal poaching and thus, our elephants in their natural ecosystems are amongst the most protected in the world. “Unfortunately, the impact of globalisation has predisposed us to be associated with this illegal trade as the country has become a thriving hub for these illegal exports.
“The global community is aware that Nigeria is being used as a transit and are willing to provide us with all the necessary support to stop these products from transiting through our country,” he said The minister explained that the tools had the forensic capacity to detect and document fingerprints/palm marks, including the source of any person that had come in contact with the ivory that was illegally traded.
“It gives me great pleasure to hand over these tools for the retrieval of finger/palm mark evidence off ivory to the Nigeria Customs Service,” he said The minister urged the Nigeria Customs Service and other relevant security agencies to plug all loopholes to protect Nigeria from being used as a transit hub.
Responding, Swomen said the NCS would make good use of the toolkits, and that the Service would train its staff on how the handling of the toolkits. He said that the toolkits would be deployed in some nation’s exit points, adding that more toolkits are needed to cover other relevant exits to address illegal wildlife trade and trafficking in the country.