Nigeria Customs Intercepts Pangolin Scales, Elephant Tusks Worth N22.3bn - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE



Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Nigeria Customs Intercepts Pangolin Scales, Elephant Tusks Worth N22.3bn

By Heritage Odih, Lagos

In what may appear as the largest haul of trafficked parts of endangered species of animals in recent years, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on Wednesday announced the arrest of three suspects involved in smuggling of pangolin scales and elephant tusks worth N22.3bn in Lagos.

Controller General of Customs (CGC), Col Hammed Ali (retd), who disclosed this,   displayed the seizures before newsmen saying the 17,137.44 kilograms of pangolin scales (196 sacks), 870.44 kilograms of elephant tusks and 4.60 kilograms of pangolin claws were discovered and evacuated on Ijeoma Street, Lekki, Lagos State following thorough examination.

Ali said the NCS' Intelligence Unit and Headquarters Strikeforce stormed the location, conducted swift and comprehensive actions on the items after extensive credible intelligence gathering. 

He explained that the seizures were carried out in line with Section 63 “e” and “g” of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA), Cap 45 LFN 2004 as amended.

According to him, the step also falls within the purview of  "Export prohibition schedule VI of the extant Common External Tariff," which prohibits their exportation.

The NCS director said three suspects were arrested in connection with the intercepted items,  adding that they would  have their date in court.

He the NCS operatives would leave no stone unturned to bring the suspects to justice, vowing to extend the same treatment to any person or organisation remotely connected to this or any illegal wildlife trade.

He said: "Nigeria is a signatory to CITES convention hence cannot be used as a transit hub. This feast is a testimony of what sincere collaboration between nations can achieve for our world and individual nations in particular.

"Already three suspects who are non-nationals have been arrested. They are Mr Traore Djakonba, Mr Isiak Musa and Mr Mohammed Bereta. The Kingpin, Mr Berete Morybinet is on the run thinking he can evade the long arm of the law. Security agencies at all entry and exit points are on red alert to track and arrest to face justice. He is therefore advised in his interest to surrender himself to the NCS.

"While thanking our partners, especially the wildlife justice commission, let me give assurances of the Service determination to treat any and every information with the utmost confidentiality and swift appropriate action(s) to them this tide of illegality."

He noted that the ever-increasing and relevant functions of the global Customs community demonstrate the necessity of Customs actions to raise revenue, suppress smuggling and intercept the illegal movement of items that can compromise national security, economy, health and environment protection.

"Deforestation and depletion of wildlife especially the endangered species have been a global concern with nationals collaboration, sharing intelligence and expertise that would stamp out indiscriminate killings of endangered species.

"In line with global best practices, NCS has been in robust collaboration with embassies of US, UK, Germany with other quarterly meetings that provide a platform for shared experiences," he added

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