UN Deputy Secretary-General denies involvement in illegal wood export

Mohammed also said when she was appointed minister of environment in November 2015, one of the first issues she had to deal with was deforestation.

In an interview with TheCable, Mohammed denied the claims that she was involved in the illegal export of African rosewood, also known as kosso, from Nigeria to China, a trade estimated to be worth $1 billion in the last four years.

“No permits were backdated or illegally signed by me. We are therefore appalled if any legally obtained or forged certificates were used by unscrupulous rosewood traders to circumvent exportation procedures.

“Not only do I decry fraud and corruption, we also categorically reject any allegations of corruption or coercion in our effort to better address illegal logging and exportation.

“I categorically deny receiving any bribe. It has never been in my character. I never demanded neither did I collect any bribe, either cash or material,” she said.

Mohammed also said when she was appointed minister of environment in November 2015, one of the first issues she had to deal with was deforestation.

She said it was a huge concern as Nigeria was losing its forest cover at an alarming rate and for her, protecting the environment is sacrosanct.

She also said when she was minister, one of her first acts was to tackle illegal logging because what she found on ground was alarming.

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), had earlier claimed that the former Nigerian Minister might have benefited personally from signing thousands of allegedly backdated permits in January 2017 which were allegedly used to clear illegal rosewood exports to China.

EIA further claimed this happened at the time Mohammed was preparing to leave as Nigeria’s minister of environment following her UN appointment.

EIA’s report said over 1.4 million illegal rosewood logs from Nigeria, worth $300 million, were detained at the ports in China in 2016 but were released after the presentation of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) certificates signed by the ex-minister for environment.

The EIA is a non-governmental organisation that specialises in investigating environmental crimes.

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