Nigeria, Daily Trust gathered, is a transit route for ivory and other endangered species as most of the killing and trading are done outside the country.The organisation has issued notices to all member countries recommending that signatories no longer permit trade with Nigeria, Laos and DR Congo, the two other countries banned alongside Nigeria.Reacting to the ban, Mr Fidelis Omeni of the Forestry Department, Ministry of Environment and CITES Focal Person for Nigeria, said that the sanction was just a mere formality.“We are aware of the ban. Although we were given time to prepare a National Ivory Action Plan stating how we intend to deal with ivory sales and transit through the country, we were unable to do that due to numerous challenges including finance, capacity and technical know-how,” Omeni said.CITES said it was sanctioning Nigeria for failing after repeated warning to prepare a National Action Plan to be submitted to CITES by October 2014. “Despite reminders being issued to Nigeria, Laos and DR Congo in January and February this year and the deadline being extended until March 14th no plans have been submitted,” it noted.The organisation said that the decision to sanction Nigeria and the other two countries followed its 2014 meeting where tackling the ivory trade and elephant poaching were identified as a pressing concern and a number of countries were listed as not doing enough to halt the trade. Eleven countries were ordered to produce and submit national ivory action plans.“During an inter-sessional meeting in January this year, it was decided that those countries failing to meet the 14th March deadline should face trade bans on all CITES species. The CITES Secretariat has now invoked those sanctions and issued formal notice to all CITES members to enforce trade bans with Nigeria and the other two countries,” the secretariat said in a statement.Omeni, however, said that the department was trying its best amidst the challenges it is facing to prepare the National Action Plan stressing that though the sanction was for the records, the country needs to show its commitment to the protection of its wide fauna and flora.
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