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Again, Customs intercepts N1.7bn Pangolin scales in Lagos

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Abiola Seun

Barely two months after the Comptroller-General of Customs Strike Force, Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), intercepted Pangolin scales worth N22billion, the unit yesterday displayed another N1.7billion worth of pangolin scales intercepted in Lagos.

Pangolin scales belong to the group of illegal wild life trade which contravenes Section 63 “e” and “g” of CEMA Cap 45 LFN 2004 and Nigeria is also a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Addressing journalists, the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), lamented that Nigeria has become a transit point for the smuggling of pangolin scales to other part of the world.

He, however, said that investigations is ongoing to reveal the country of origin and destination for the pangolin scales.

Ali who was represented by Customs National Public Relations, Joseph Attah, alleged international collaboration in the trafficking of the wild life.

He said, “It’s my pleasure to brief you on the success story of the Nigeria Customs Service ongoing crackdown on illegal wild life trade.

“Even though, this criminality is not essentially a Nigerian thing, sadly some foreigners with active connivance of few Nigerians are bent on using our dear country as a transit route for illegal wild life trade.”

“You will recall that Nigeria Customs Service, acting on credible intelligence provided by our international partners about two months ago, announced wild life seizure worth over N22bn with arrested suspects currently facing prosecution.

“In the course of further investigation to arrest other members of the gang, we received another credible intelligence from same international partner, Wild Life Justice Commission, and swiftly deployed our intelligence operatives with the Strike Force as a SWOT team.

” This led to the interception of One Mercedes Benz Bus with registration number BGT 256 LG along Kudirat Abiola Way Oregun, Ikeja, Lagos.”

The Customs boss said two suspects including a foreigner was arrested in connection to the seizure and would soon be charged to court.

“Upon 100 percent examination, the bus was found to contain the following: Pangolin Scales by 60kg, Pangolin Scales by 35kg, Pangolin Scales by 54kg, Pangolin Scales by 64kg, Pangolin Scales by 66kg, Pangolin Scales by 58kg, Pangolin Scales by 50kg, Pangolin Scales by 73kg, Pangolin Scales by 61kg, Pangolin Scales by 64kg, Pangolin Scales by 92kg, Pangolin Scales by 89kg, Pangolin Scales by 60kg, and Pangolin Scales by 92.5kg, totalling 1,009.5kg of Pangoling scales plus one sack of Pangolin Claws by 5kg.”

“The Duty Paid Value of the entire seizure cumulates at N1.7billion.

Two suspects have already been arrested in connection with this Seizure. They are Mr. Salif Sanwidi and Mr. Sunday Ebenyi. They will also be charged to court to answer for their crime.”

“As responsible member of the global community, we cannot allow our nation to be used as a conduit pipe for illegal trade on wild life.

“We remain committed to the quarterly meeting with embassies of USA, UK and Germany and welcome on board other International organizations that are joining the fray.”

However, an official of the Federal Ministry of Environment, Oluyemi Babajide who  represented the focal point for CITES, said at the completion of the prosecution processes, the seizures will be handed over to Nigeria Environmental Enforcement Agency (NESREA).

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