Gabon Has Busted A Major Ivory Smuggling Network Connected To Boko Haram
If there was an exact moment we all found out the breadth of Boko Haram’s evil, it came in 2014, when the group’s leader grinned and announced he would sell 200 kidnapped schoolgirls in his "market of selling human beings". It was always a mystery how the terrorist group got their money.
Because despite the poverty of northern Nigeria — where 70 percent of people live on less than a dollar per day — Boko Haram has, at its disposal, a seemingly limitless amount of heavy weaponry, vehicles, bombs and ammunition that it uses to kill with unfathomable wantonness.
And we may have found one of the sources of their income. Officials in Gabon say they have dismantled the country's largest ivory trafficking network, which last year alone was responsible for trading, selling and shipping six tons of ivory across the continent. Ivory trafficking is responsible for the near extinction state that elephants now exist in.
The two-year mission, called Operation Nzok, resulted in the arrests of a Chadian man, Abdoulaye Mohamoud Ibrahim, and eight others, including his wife and other family members. The officials said that analysis of the traffickers' laptops and cellphones revealed links to Boko Haram.
Gabon has the largest population of forest elephants in the world. Also home to gorillas, mandrills and hippos, it is one of the lushest nations on the planet — 80 percent of its land mass is a forest. And Gabon's president, Mr. Bongo is lauded for his protectionist stance on animals and marine life.
He has banned commercial fishing off coastal waters to establish one of the continent’s largest protected marine areas, expanded the national parks agency and regularly attends international climate and conservation conferences.
Besides ivory, the network is also suspected of smuggling 48 large hocks, or elephant legs. The items were transported to Cameroon or to West African countries. The suspects have now been charged with organized crime and ivory trafficking.
By Olanrewaju Eweniyi, published on 22/01/2018