NESREA, INTERPOL TO TACKLE ENVIRONMENTAL CRIMES
Going by the outcome of the meeting between officials of the International Police Organization (INTERPOL) and the management of the leading Environmental Agency in Nigeria, the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), the days of Nigeria being used as a transit route to smuggle wildlife of flora and fauna are over.
Speaking during a courtesy call on the Director General of NESREA, the Commissioner of Police in charge of Interpol, Olusola Kamer Subair PSc+ affirmed the readiness of his organization to partner with NESREA to tackle all forms of Environmental Crimes and especially to stop the country from being used as trans-shipment route by unscrupulous persons.
The Interpol boss disclosed that it was worrisome to receive increasing cases of scale shipment of endangered species such as pangolin, elephant tusk being traced back to Nigeria after they have been smuggled out although Nigeria is not their originating point. “The trend has started again. And if we are not careful, these organized criminals will put Nigeria in trouble again,” he added.
It would be recalled that Nigeria was only recently recalled back to the Convention for International Trade on Endangered Species (CITES), having successfully plugged previous leakages.
The commissioner noted that to foster smooth relationship, NESREA and Interpol should work together via exchange of information; improved Data bases and any other available record sharing including capacity building, seminar and workshops. “These are the necessary ingredients that can assist in tracking all forms of environmental crimes including those that have to do with waste, cyber, fisheries and electronics.
Responding, the Director-General of NESREA, Dr. Lawrence Anukam expressed his appreciation for the visit and thanked the Interpol boss for finding time to do so.
The Director General said he was delighted at the prospects of developing a fruitful working relationship with Interpol although an enduring relationship already exists with the Nigeria Police.
Dr Anukam explained to the Interpol boss that an Environmental Training Manual was already in place to educate and inform the police about ways to tackle environmental crimes.
In furtherance of that objective, Dr Anukam said NESREA had organized a workshop for senior members of the Nigeria Police Force, one of which had taken place in Kaduna and the other in the Federal Capital.
Though he stressed the need for adequate awareness and sensitization to educate Nigerians properly on the need to be watchful, and be acquainted with what constitutes environmental crimes, he said the absence of a holding facility was not the best. “This is one of the difficulties including not physically being present at the scene of crime especially the entry points”, he stated.
The Director General welcomed the working relationship and reiterated the agency’s preparedness to join hands with the Interpol to confront the challenge assuring that with more State Offices to add to the existing Six Zonal offices and twenty-four (24) Field Offices, the days of illicit dealers in endangered species were numbered.
He also pointed out that as part of the collaborative process, useful information regarding the National Environmental Regulations and names of accredited Environmental Consultants may be uploaded into Interpol Data System for easy assessment. “We must not allow this trend to continue; we shouldn’t allow our country to be blacklisted again by these criminals,” he concluded.