The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has intercepted pangolin scales and elephant tusks worth N22.3 billion in Lagos, according to the Comptroller General, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.).
He described the quantity of the items as; pangolin scales (196 sacks) weighed 17,137.44 kilograms; elephant tusks, 870.44 kilograms and pangolin claws, 4.60 kilograms.
Ali added that the seized items were evacuated at a location on eastern side of Ijeoma Street, Lekki, Lagos State, after proper examination.
He pointed out that three suspects had been arrested in connection with the seizure.
He said NCS’s extensive collaboration yielded credible intelligence that triggered swift and comprehensive actions by the Customs Intelligence Unit and Headquarters Strike Force.
According to him, the seizure is in line with Section 63 “e” and “g” of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA), Cap 45 LFN 2004 as amended.
He added that it fell under Export prohibition schedule VI of the extant Common External Tariff, which prohibited their exportation.
“Nigeria is a signatory to CITES convention, hence cannot be used as a transit hub. This feat 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 him to face justice. He is, therefore, advised in his interest to surrender himself to the NCS,” he said.
The Customs boss said the suspects arrested would soon have their date in court, as NCS would leave no stone unturned to bring them to justice.
He said the Service would extend the same treatment to any person or organisation remotely connected to any illegal wildlife trade.
“While thanking our partners, especially the wildlife justice commission, let me give assurances of the Service’s determination to treat every information with utmost confidentiality and appropriate action to stem this tide of illegality.
“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 said.