By Okezie Nnadi
The Nigeria Customs Service yesterday disclosed a massive seizure of endangered wildlife species, arresting three persons.
Customs Controller General, Col.Hammeed Ali (rtd.)who led Journalists on a showcase of the seized items said, a collaboration between Customs Intelligence Unit and Headquarters Strikeforce led to the evacuation of sacks of different kilograms of Pangolin scales, Pangolin claws and Elephant tusks (ivory) with estimated value of N22.283,747,850.00.
A break down of the seized items shows: 196 sacks of Pangolin scales, weighing 17,137.40kg, 870.44kg of Elephant tusks and 4.60kg of Pangolin claws
According to the CGC, the action is in line with Section 63 “e” and “g” of CEMA, Cap 45 LFN 2004 as amended.
It also falls under Export prohibition schedule VI of the extant Common External Tariff, which prohibits exportation of endangered wildlife life species and Nigeria as a signatory to CITES Convention cannot be used as transit point.
The names of the 3 arrested suspects were given as: Mr. Traore Djakonba, Mr. Isiak Musa and Mr. Mohammed Bereta. However, the fourth suspect said to be the kingpin is yet to be arrested.
Ali pointed out that apart from the NCS’s actions to raise revenue, suppress smuggling and intercept illegal movement of items that can compromise national security, Economy, health and environmental protection.
“Deforestation and depletion of wildlife, especially the endangered species have been global concern with Nations collaborating, sharing intelligence and expertise that will stamp out indiscriminate killing of endangered species.”
Comptroller Ali revealed that the Service has been in robust collaboration with embassies of US, UK and Germany, with other other credible international Bodies like the Wildlife Justice Commission to stem this tide.
The suspects who were arrested at Lekki, Lagos would soon be charged to court, according to the Customs CG.