Rosewood controversy: FG says Amina Mohammed is blameless
The Federal Government of Nigeria has reacted to stories making the rounds in the media recently over the exportation of rosewood to China said to have taken place under controversial circumstances.
According to reports, a non-governmental organisation, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), that focuses on investigating environmental crimes, claimed that former Minister of Environment and current United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Amina J. Mohammed might have derived personal benefits from signing thousands of allegedly backdated permits in January 2017 which it said were used to clear illegal rosewood exports to China.
The trade in rosewood, also known as kosso, from Nigeria to China, is put at about $1 billion in the last four years.
The report said over 1.4 million illegal rosewood logs from Nigeria, worth $300 million, were detained at the ports in China in 2016, adding that the logs were released following the presentation of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) certificates signed by Mohammed.
However, over the weekend, the Federal Ministry of Environment, issued a statement in which it said that the former Minister of Environment was a victim of intentions to smear her and the Nigeria government and tagged the report as a “pure misrepresentation of facts.”
The statement which was signed by the Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jibril, stated that “The Ministry of Environment wishes to state unequivocally that the ex-minister is not under any probe whatsoever over any purported wrongdoing whether locally or internationally.”
Furthermore, the statement said that “the ex-minister acted within the ambit of the law of both the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the protocols of International Environmental Conventions while in office between November 2015 to February 2017.
“For clarity, the processes involved in issuing approvals for Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) are as follows: potential exporters are required to apply to the Ministry; inspection of factories and premises for compliance by wood experts; qualified exporters are issued letters of support; invitation of the Ministry by the exporter for the stuffing of the containers; exporter applies for CITES permit; granting of approval.
“The ministry clearly states that all the CITES permits signed by the ex-minister were done in line with stringent guidance and procedures.
“Specifically, rosewood (kosso) is under CITES Appendix II which allows sustainable trade to improve the livelihood of people in line with international best practices.”
“In conclusion, it is important to state that Mrs Amina J. Mohammed during her tenure as minister of environment carried out far reaching reforms in the environmental sector particularly in bringing rosewood from unguided trade of CITES Appendix III to Appendix II which sanitised the wood industry in Nigeria.”
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