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Customs gets forensic toolkits to counter illicit wildlife trade

The Minister of Environment, Alhaji Suleiman Zarma, on Monday, February 11, 2019 handed over six forensic toolkits to Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to detect and identify the source of illegal wildlife trade in the country.

Customs and FME
Minister of Environment, Alhaji Suleiman Zarma (left), handing over the toolkits to the Deputy Comptroller of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Mr Hammi Swomen

Zarma, who gave the toolkits to Deputy Comptroller of NCS, Mr Hammi Swomen, in Abuja, said that the toolkits would also identify the finger prints of those responsible for illegal smuggling of ivory.

He recalled that the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAM) presented the toolkits at the International Wildlife Conference on illegal Wildlife Trafficking in October 2018.

“This aims at retrieving finger/palm marks evidence of ivory which has the forensic capability to detect and document finger prints/palms, including source of any person that has come into contact with an ivory illegally traded,’’ he said.

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The minister urged Nigeria Customs Service to distribute the toolkits for use at the most susceptible exit points of the nation’s air and sea ports that had been associated with illegal wildlife trade.

He recalled that International trade in ivory was banned in 1989, adding that since then there had been a burgeoning illegal trade which contributed to the depletion of the elephants in the wild.

“I must say that Nigeria has been able to curtail activities of illegal poaching and thus, our elephants in their natural ecosystems are among the most protected in the world.

“Unfortunately, the impact of globalisation has predisposed us to being associated with this illegal trade as the country has become a thriving hub for this illegal export.

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“The global community is aware that Nigeria is being used as a transit and it is willing to provide us with all the necessary support to stop these products from transiting through our country,’’ Zarma said.

He, therefore, urged Nigeria Customs Service and other relevant security agencies to plug all loopholes to protect Nigeria from being used as a transit hub.

Responding, Swomen, who said that Nigeria Customs Service would make good use of the toolkits, said that the service would train its staff to know how the toolkits would be handled.

The customs officer, who said that toolkits would be deployed to some nation’s exit points, requested for more toolkits to cover other relevant exits to address illegal wildlife trade and trafficking in the country.

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By Deji Abdulwahab

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