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Group seeks sanction for foreigners engaged in illegal wood export

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Woods

The Nigerian Human Rights Community (NHRC) has raised the alarm on the depletion of Nigeria’s forests and illegal wood export by foreigners.

The group called on President Muhammadu Buhari, the National Assembly and state governors to ban all foreigners, especially Chinese, Lebanese and Koreans, implicated in the illegal exportation of precious wood resources.

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In a press conference held in Lagos, NHRC Chairman, Adewale Adeoye and Director of Publicity, Taiwo Adeleye, also called for the setting up of a probe panel and Judicial Commissions of Enquiry in all the affected states to identify, punish and sanction all the foreign interests and their collaborators involved in the illegal business.

NHRC said: “What is going on is the silent and vicious killing of our livelihood, destruction of our country and violation of Nigeria’s constitution in the most savage, rude and provocative manners.

“What we are seeing across Nigeria is blatant rape of our environment through the synergy of local and international conspirators. Our forest reserves, wood species, economic trees are being mauled down with desperation. These precious and inestimable forest resources will determine the livelihood of millions of Nigerians.”

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According to NHRC records, 96,518 square kilometres of land, which is 27 per cent of the total forest area and some 10 per cent of the total land area designated as reserves by various governments in the country have been lost. Most of these, representing some 66 per cent of the forest reserves, is located in the Savannah area, some 20 per cent of the land area are in tropical forest zones, all in Southern Nigeria while four per cent are freshwater swamps and mangroves in the Niger Delta.

At independence, Nigeria had, at least, eight National Parks, forest reserves were some 445-nature reserves. Today, more than half of all of them are gone. In the year 2005 alone, some 11,089,000 hectares (27,400,000 acres) were destroyed in Nigeria. Between 1990-2000, the country lost some 409,700 hectares of forest.

The years between 1990 and 2005, Nigeria lost some 37.7 per cent of forest strength, which were some 6,145,000. Nigeria is home to some 285 mammals, 203 reptiles, 117 Amphibians, 775 different fishes, 864 species of birds and 4,715 species of higher plants. The desperate destruction of these precious trees has led to the total annihilation of these species.

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The most affected communities are in Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti, Kwara, Kogi, Lagos, Osun, Cross Rivers, Rivers, Bayelsa, Edo and Delta states. In the Northern part of the country, the most hit are Plateau, Nassarawa and Benue states.

The main targets are Rosewood, Araria, Mahogany and Iroko. Yearly, some 3.5 per cent of approximately 350,000 – 400,000 hectares are destroyed in Nigeria.

“In line with the dictates of Nigerian law, the Nigerian Prohibition list, which states that timber cannot be exported in rough and sawn form, which is the form these illegal exporters move the woods, and in line with the Convention on International trade in endangered species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the perpetrators must be brought to book,” they said.

The group announced a local and global campaign against all individuals as well as foreign interests involved in these illegal export of wood. “We will embark on petitions to government institutions, the Chinese, Lebanese and Koreans governments and the united nations to stop these criminal acts and bring the perpetrators to book,” NHRC said.

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