‘Amina Mohammed not under probe over rosewood exports’
The role played by former Minister, now Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Mrs. Amina Mohammed in wood export racketeering to China became a subject of controversy when the Federal Ministry of Environment defended her actions and insisted that she was not under any form of probe for any wrongdoing locally and internationally.
Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jibril described the report as, “spurious and unsubstantiated allegations against the former Minister,” insisting that it was “a pure misrepresentation of facts, baseless and intended to smear not just Mrs. Mohammed, but the Nigerian Government.”
The Guardian report, Ex-minister under probe over alleged $1billion illicit deals— had quoted the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) as saying it probed illegal rosewood exports to China amounting to some $1billion between 2014 and 2017, in which over 1.4 million logs worth $ 300 million were exported under the watch of the former Nigerian Minister in two years.
The report indicted Mrs. Mohammed in what the agency referred to as illegal rosewood exports to China and stated that the former minister shortly before she resumed at the United Nations retroactively signed thousands of permits to release most of the illegal logs already seized by Chinese authorities.
The report, a product of a two-year probe by the EIA, further stated that about $1million were paid out in bribes to top government officials within the period.
Jibril said that the ex-minister acted within the ambit of the law of both the Federal Government and the protocols of International Environmental conventions while in office between November 2015 to February 2017.
For the records, the CITES permits signed by the Ex-Minister were in batches from August, 2016 to January, 2017, which are in line with established Public Service norms, the Ex-Minister continued to perform her duties diligently up to the last minute of her last day in office in February 24th 2017.
He explained that all the CITES permits signed by the former minister was done in line with stringent guidance and procedures. “Mrs Amina Mohammed during her tenure as Minister of Environment carried out far reaching reforms in the Environmental Sector particularly in bringing Rosewood from unguided trade of CITES Appendix III to Appendix II which sanitized the Wood industry in Nigeria.
“In addition, she led the Review of Endangered Species Act, Convention on International Trade in Wild Fauna and Flora and duly signed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, on 3oth December, 2016, “ he said.
According to him, the processes involved in issuing approvals for Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) are that potential exporters are required to apply to the ministry; inspection of factories and premises for compliance by wood experts.
Other processes include that qualified Exporters are issued letters of support, invitation of the Ministry by the exporter for the stuffing of the containers, exporter applies for CITES permit and granting of approval
The minister said: “Rosewood (Kosso) is under CITES Appendix II which, allows sustainable Trade to improve the livelihood of people in line with International best practices.”