Former Minister of Environment now UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, has been accused of granting illegal permits to Chinese firms to import endangered Nigerian timber when she was in office.
Mohammed served as Nigeria’s Minister of Environment from November 2015 to February this year.
According to AFP, investigations by Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a Washington-based environmental campaigning organization, suggests that Mohammed provided documents used by Chinese importers to clear more than $300 million worth of rosewood logs (timbers) used in making luxury furniture. The agency alleged that the former Minister on January 16th, shortly before she left office, ‘hurriedly’ signed some export certificates.
The agency alleged that some officials in the Ministry of Environment were paid over $1 million to help the importers release the rosewood, which was put on a list of endangered species last year by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
When contacted, Mohammed through the UN spokesman Farhan Haq categorically rejected the allegations of fraud. According to Haq, the signing of the permits for the rosewood exports was delayed after Mohammed insisted “that stringent due process was followed,”.
“She says that she signed the export certificates requested before the ban only after due process was followed and better security watermarked certificates became available,” he added.