The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) has arrested two men for alleged illegal trading of wildlife in Abuja.
The men (name withheld), who were found in possession of a lion, have however been handed over to security officials for further interrogation.
Acting on a tip-off, a combined team from NESREA, the Nigeria Police Force, and the National Parks Service swung into action, rescued the cub, and arrested the suspects as they tried to sell off the animal for N6 million.
Mr Ayuba Jacob, NESREA’s Director, Environmental Quality Control, said the act of illegal trading was a criminal offence, warning those involved in such act to desist.
He said the seized lion have been handed to the National Parks Service, adding that NESREA would continue to apprehend those involved in such act.
According to him, the lion (cub) is one of the endangered species whose trade has been prohibited, both locally and internationally.
This, he noted, was stated in the Endangered Species Act.
“It is the mandate of the agency to enforce these provisions and the purpose of the enforcement is to protect animal species, especially those that are endangered, to prevent them from going into extinction.
“This is an international criminal offence. There is no excuse in law; the offenders are going to be charged to court.
“We are making effort to ensure that Nigeria is not disgraced before the international community, not only in this particular animal specie, but other endangered species,” he said.
Jacob said that the agency was committed to creating strong awareness on enforcement of regulations.
“ We are using the media to create awareness regularly all over the country and this is to ensure effectiveness of the awareness.
“We normally educate people, especially hunters, on the fact that there are some animals that need to be conserved for sustainable development.
“Such animals are going in great extinct; we are not seeing them again; they have been taken away; so they are being conserved,” he said.
Jacob said that a list of endangered animals was always made available during awareness campaigns.
“We ensure that we list such animals to the hunters. And it’s not only animals; even some trees, such as Iroko, Mahogany and others. We call the wildlife species,’’ he said.
The director, however, appreciated the efforts of the Nigeria Police Force and the staffers of National Park Service for making it possible for the seizure of the cub and the arrest of the suspected traffickers.
Jacob said that Nigeria was a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
“We have the National Environmental Protection of Endangered Species in International Trade, Regulation 2011 and the Endangered Species Control of International Trade and Traffic, (Amendment) Act, 2016,” he said.