A former Minister of Environment in Nigeria, now UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, has reacted to report in the media which connects her to the sum of $300 million collected as an illegal payment for the exportation of rosewood logs (Timbers) from Nigeria to China.
Recall that the allegation was made by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a Washington-based environmental campaigning organization, which accused the former Nigerian minster of issuing export certificates to some Chinese importers to illegally clear more than $300 million worth of rosewood logs (timbers) out of Nigeria.
Reacting to the report, Amina Mohammed, distanced herself from the report adding that she is not in the business of taking bribes.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Cable, Amina who served in the capacity of Nigeria’s Environmental Minister between November 2015 and February 2016, said: “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. One of the first issues I had to deal with was deforestation. It was a huge concern as Nigeria was losing its forest cover at an alarming rate. For me, protecting the environment is sacrosanct.
“When I was minister, one of my first acts was to tackle illegal logging. What I found on ground was alarming.
“I read the headline and the body of the story but I did not see anywhere they reported who is probing me. Is it the Nigerian government or the Chinese government? I am not under any probe. I am not aware of any. I think the confusion came from the name of the NGO that did the report, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). It is not an agency of government. It is a non-governmental organisation.
“Their report says the illegal trade in kosso, or African rosewood, is worth $1 billion over the years, dating back to 2013 before I was appointed minister. They also said wood exports from Nigeria worth about $300 million were detained at the Chinese ports. EIA did not say I am under probe, much less for taking part in a $1 billion illicit trade. I am a bit surprised by the impression created by the reports.”