Enugu council bans killing of primates, imposes N100, 000 fine
Determined to preserve endangered species, Oji River Local Government has passed a bill that protects biodiversity in its autonomous communities, namely Akpugoeze and Inyi, Oji River lga in Enugu State.
The law, the “Primate Rights Bill,” became effective on November 1, 2019. It extends protection to primates found in the communities of Akpugoeze and Inyi in Oji River LGA.
The local government took action in response to a need for greater awareness about the ecological and cultural values of the primate species found in the region and also to the global biodiversity crisis.
To draw attention to the plight of primates, the Oji River government has initially focused on the Akpugoeze and Inyi communities given that these communities have, to some degree, long protected certain monkey species due to cultural and traditional beliefs.
For example, Akpugoeze harbours the Endangered Sclater’s monkey (Cercopithecus sclateri), a species endemic to southeastern Nigeria. Due to long-standing cultural beliefs, Sclater’s monkey is not killed or harmed by most people from the three communities comprising Akpugoeze (Akpugoeze Autonomous Community, Akpugoeze-Ugwu Autonomous Community, and Akpugoeze-Agbada Autonomous Community). However, some still-hunt and kill monkeys in Akpugoeze.
The Primate Rights Bill institutes protection for all primate species in Akpugoeze and Inyi communities and includes punishments for offenders.
Under the bill sponsored by ThankGod Chukwudi Okoli Councillor – Akpugoeze Ward; Hon. Nnagboo Gabriel Councillor-Oji Urban Ward III and Hon. David Madubuchi Councillor-Ugwuoba Ward 1, any person or group of persons found to engage in the harming, hunting, or killing of any primate within Akpugoeze and Inyi land will be guilty of the Primate Rights Law.
Species to be protected under this law include Sclater’s monkey (Cercopithecus sclateri) Mona monkey (Cercopithecus mona) Patas monkey (Erythrocebus patas) Tantalus monkey (Chlorocebus tantalus) Angwantibo (Arctocebus calabarensis) Milne-Edwards’ potto (Perodicticus edwardsi) All galagos and bushbabies (Galagoides spp., Euoticus pallidus, and Sciurocheirus alleni).
“The police within the jurisdiction passed by the Primate Rights Law Act may arrest the law breaker and incarcerate him or her in the police cell in accordance with the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Upon conviction in a competent court of law, the judge shall sentence the culprit to one of the following punishments, as the court shall deem appropriate: For first offense, two months’ imprisonment, or the option of a fine of N50, 000 only; while for the second and subsequent offenses, four months’ imprisonment, or the option of a fine of N100,000 only.”
According to a report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES, nature is declining globally at rates unmatched in human history. In addition, the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the planet now likely.
The IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is the most comprehensive ever completed. Compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries over the past three years, with inputs from another 310 contributing authors, the report assesses changes over the past 5 decades. Findings in the report show that about one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history.
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