The Nigerian Human Rights Community (NHRC) has urged the federal government to arrest and prosecute foreigners who are involved in the large scale illegal exportation of wood in the country.
During a press conference held at the NHRC secretariat in Lagos on Wednesday, the Director of Publicity of the organisation, Taiwo Adeleye, said Nigeria has become hub to the largest illegal exportation of wood in Africa, and about 16 states have been severely impacted negatively by the illegal activities of these foreigners.
Adeyele said the main targets of the perpetrators are Rosewood, Araria, Mahogany and Iroko and that annually, some approximately 350,000-400,000 hectares of forests are destroyed per year. He urged Nigeria not to ignore the critical issue of devastation of the environment and illegal wood export which has devastated many communities.
‘What we are seeing across Nigeria is the blatant rape of our environment by a combined synergy of local and international conspirators. Our forest reserves, wood species, economic trees are being mauled down with desperation. Records indicate that 96,518 square kilometers of land was designated as reserved by various governments in the country and as we speak, Nigeria is hub to the largest illegal exportation of wood in Africa. The Nigerian Prohibition Lists states that timber cannot be exported in raw or saw dust form, which is this is the form which these illegal exporters move the woods and in line with the Convention on International Trade Endangered Species (CITES) of wide Flauna and Flora, the perpetrators must be brought to book.
‘In the past three months, the NHRC has been receiving reports from across the country from indigenous peoples whose livelihood is threatened and their forest resources are the verge of extinction. These communities are helpless and are facing a hopeless situation. 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 states, the most hit are Plateau, Nassarawa and Benue states.
‘The main actors are Chinese, Koreans and Lebanese who have no other jobs than to invade the forests, cut down the trees for export in the most ignoble, vicious and callous manners. There is no Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) no prior and informed consent of affected indigenous communities while the desperate hunt for these precious forest reserves continues. It may interest Nigerians to know that these precious trees that cost a fortune are never replaced by these foreigners who feast on them. Their main targets are Rosewood, Araria, Mahogany and Iroko.
‘We call on President Muhannadu Buhari, the National Assembly and the 36 state governors to immediately ban these foreign nationals involved in illegal exportation of Nigeria’s precious wood resourcSetting up of a Presidential probe panel and judicial commission of enquiry in all affected states to identify to identify, punish and sanction all the foreign interests and their collaborators involved in this illegal business,’ Adeleye said.