Economic and Social Council: Operational Activities for Development Segment.

‘Beautiful Thief’: Nigerians on Twitter Roast Buhari’s Ex-Minister and UN’s Amina Mohammed

Nigerians on social media have descended on Nigeria’s former Minister of Environment and current Under Secretary at the United Nations, Mrs. Amina Mohammed following the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) release of a report showing how over 1.4 million illegal rosewood logs from Nigeria, worth $300 million, were laundered into China under Amina’s authorisation as Minister.

The Nigerians who took to micro-blogging site Twitter, described the former Minister who served under President Muhammadu Buhari’s ‘anti-corruption’ government as a ‘beautiful thief’.

According to Foreign Policy, “Wood from rosewood trees — also known as kosso — is prized in China for its pinkish hue and purplish-brown streaks. Since 2012, however, the export of rosewood has decimated forests throughout West Africa. Environmentalists fear that uncontrolled deforestation of the region’s woodlands will encourage soil erosion and accelerate the spread of Saharan desert into once productive areas. Mohammed’s 11th-hour decision to approve the kosso shipments was first documented by a Washington-based environmental group and is now part of an inquiry by the secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to which Nigeria is a signatory.

“In a letter to Nigerian authorities in August 2017, John Scanlon, CITES’s secretary-general, raised concern about information his agency had received indicating that as many as 10,000 containers of Nigerian rosewood had been stopped by Chinese authorities between May and December 2016, because they were not accompanied by the proper CITES documentation, according to Michael Osakuade, the acting director of Nigeria’s Department of Forestry. On Dec. 31, 2016, Mohammed herself imposed a three-month ban on the trade in rosewood. Yet following Mohammed’s mass signings, more than two weeks after the ban went into force, the trade quickly resumed: Chinese trade data show that between then and April, as many as 12,000 containers of kosso logs were cleared to enter the country.”

The group plans on Thursday to release a 40-page report alleging that Mohammed’s approval of the kosso exports violated the CITES agreement. EIA claims that the former Nigerian minister broke the convention’s rules by permitting the shipments of kosso logs that were mislabeled as processed or semi-processed wood — which can be legally exported under the agreement — and that she retroactively approved exports of rosewood shipments that left Nigerian ports without the required certificates.

Although Mohammed denied EIA’s charges, saying she never approved the export of mislabeled logs and that she only signed permits for kosso that was still in Nigeria, many Nigerians on social media have labelled her corrupt, calling for her probe.

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