Symbol of justice
By Chinazor Megbolu
A Chinese lady, Ms. Lianga Zuli, had been charged to court by the National Environmental Standards and Regulatory Agency (NESREA). The lady was caught with wide life trophies at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja, Lagos.
The Chinese who resides in Lagos was caught with ivory items concealed in a teddy bear by the men and officers of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) MMIA command when she was about to board an aircraft to Qatar enroute to China recently.
Speaking to THISDAY, Legal Adviser, NESREA, Mr. Bola Odugbesan, said that Zuli was caught because of NESREA activities with the prohibition of dealing with wide-life trophies and products from being sold internationally and because of their collaboration with NCS to combat these crimes.
“We are here because on March 1, 2012, a Chinese national was caught with these items of ivory concealed in a teddy bear, very heavy and precious. These products were made from an elephant tusk. So, you can imagine the number of animals that were killed before those products were made”, he said.
Odugbesan also explained that it was after some men and officers of NCS caught her that she was handed over to NESREA, which later took her to the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos for arraignment.
“The charge is already before the court, she would be arraigned and appeal will be taken and then the case will continue, “he said.
While commending the steps taken by the men and officers of NCS at MMIA Command, he pointed out that it was as a result of a concerted effort being taken against illegal wildlife trade worldwide.
Continuing, he maintained that regarding the issue of combating crime against illegal wildlife trade, five international organisations came together to form the International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC), which includes the World Customs Organisation (WCO), Cites Secretariats, UNODC, Interpol and the World Bank.
“We bring our resources together in order to achieve a more coordinated support to national wide-life enforcement agencies. It has already taken off in 17 African countries including Nigeria. And so, as part of own contribution towards making it a success, Nigeria is contributing in a sensitisation campaign and intelligence gathering at local craft marketing nationwide and intensified legal checks,” he said.
Other things he stressed the country was helping out on include working with relevant taskforce and regulatory agencies to curb cross border crimes especially in the elephant tusk and ivory products trade so as to make Nigeria an ungovernable place for wildlife criminals.
“How many elephants do we have in Nigeria? How many monkeys do we have in Nigeria? So, we have to protect these animals because conservation is key to protective environment”, he said.