As the Federal Government continues to take step to keep the national parks safe and free of criminals, the National Park Service during the year 2023 has made 646 arrests across the country.
Addressing the media at the weekend on successes made in 2023, the Conservator General of the National Park Service, Dr. Ibrahim Goni gave the break down of the arrest to include 44 hunters, 222 grazers, 131 loggers, and 249 others, noting that these arrests were made in all the national parks, with Gashaka-Gumti recording the highest number.
He said in relation to banditry incidents, 37 suspects were apprehended in connection with mining/banditry in Old Oyo National Park, while Kainji Lake National Park arrested three suspected bandits and neutralized five others.
Goni added that four victims were rescued during these operations conducted within the year, and various items such as motorcycles, phones, and machetes were recovered.
He also revealed that a total of 646 cases were prosecuted in the National Parks during the year, with breakdown of the prosecution cases showing 161 convictions, 215 fines, 119 warnings and discharges, and 151 cases pending. Cross River and Gashaka-Gumti National Parks recorded the highest number of convictions.
The Conservator General also disclosed that total revenue generated for the Service from January to date stands at N83.2 million, noting that the revenue was derived from various sources, including ecotourism, compoundment, compensation, and others.
He said all revenue has been remitted to the Federal Government’s coffers
Goni said within the year, the National Park Service signed several Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with different organisations, with the MoUs aim to support and strengthen the capacities of the National Park Service in addressing conservation challenges, disclosing that some of the organisations MOUs were signed with include the Safe Nature and Humanity Club, Sayari Dunia Sustainable Tourism Foundation, West African Conservation Network, and Sterling Oil Exploration & Energy Production Co. Ltd.
He noted that the signed MoUs have had a significant impact on park protection, capacity building, and support zone development.
He said within the year, the National Park Service collaborates with relevant stakeholders to combat wildlife trafficking in Nigeria, revealing that: “Seizures have been made, and efforts have been made to release live animals back into the wild. The Nigerian Customs Service recently confiscated 81 parrots among other bird species, galagos (bush babies) which were handed over to the National Park Service for rehabilitation and reintroduction to the wild. Additionally, the National Park Service has developed a policy document on combating wildlife and forest crime in Nigeria in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime.”