Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, has denied allegations that she was involved in the illegal export of African rosewood from Nigeria to China in a trade deal estimated to be worth $300 million.
A report on Thursday by the Washington-based Environment Investigation Agency (EIA) disclosed that the top diplomat, when she was Nigeria’s Minister of Environment, allowed export of roseword from Nigeria, despite an existing ban.
However, while speaking with The Cable, Mohammed stressed that she spent her time at the ministry working to eliminate the illegal export of the tropical hardwood used for rosewood furniture in China.
She 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.”
Mohammed said when she was appointed minister of environment in November 2015, ”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.”