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Court remands smugglers of N22.3bn Pangolin Scale, Elephant tusks 

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Abiola Seun

A Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos, on Thursday, ordered the remand in the custody of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), five persons, who were accused of smuggling N22.3 billion worth of Pangolin scale and Elephant tusk.

The five accused persons were four Guinean Nationals and a Nigerian. Three of the accused who were present in court yesterday were arrested in Lagos by officials of the Service.

The accused who were identified as Troare Djakonba, Muyribein Bereye, Mohammed Berete, Sediki Berete (Guinean) and Isiaka Musa were arraigned before Justice Tijjani Rigim of the Federal High Court, Lagos on a four count charge.

However, Muyribein Bereye and Sediki Berete were not in court as they were said to be on the run.

But, counsel to Nigeria Customs Service told the court that effort was ongoing to ensure their arrest and are made to answer to charges in Court.

Meanwhile, all accused persons were arraigned on a four count charges bordering on collecting, loading, transporting and attempting to export N22.3 billion worth of Pangolin scales and Elephant tusk.

The charges brought against them in court were read in Manike language, a Guinean dialect by a translator. They however, pleaded not guilty to all four count charges.

The trial Judge, Justice Tijjani Rigim, ordered that the accused remain in the custody of the Nigeria Customs Service until September 1, 2021, when a counter application for a bail application filed by the defense counsel is filed by NCS.

Justice Tijjani Rigim adjourned the case till September 1, 2021, to allow the NIgeria Customs Service file a counter bail application.

Briefing news men after the arraignment, Counsel to the Nigeria Customs Service, Smart Akande, said all necessary application would be filed before the adjourned date.

Barr. Akanfe said the five accused persons were supposed to have been arraigned in court on August 18, 2021 but was stalled by the absence  in court of a translator.

He  recalled that the Comptroller General of NCS, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd) had on August 4, 2021, said officials of the service arrested three persons with different kilograms of Pangolin scales and Elephant tusks worth N22.3 billion in Lagos.

“While displaying the seizures to newsmen in Lagos, the CGC Col. said the 17,137.44 kilograms of Pangolin scales (196 sacks), 870.44 kilograms of Elephant tusks and 4.60 kilograms of Pangolin claws were evacuated at a location on eastern side of Ijeoma Street, Lekki, Lagos State after proper examination.

“He also said extensive collaboration yielded credible intelligence that triggered swift and comprehensive actions by the Customs Intelligence Unit and Headquarters Strikeforce” Akande added.

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