The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), on Wednesday said it arrested three suspected smugglers with Pangolin scales and elephant tusks worth N22.3 billion in Lagos.
Displaying the seizures in Lagos on Wednesday, Hammed Ali, the Comptroller General of Customs (CGC), 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 at the eastern side of Ijeoma Street, Lekki in Lagos State after proper examination.
According to him, it was an extensive collaboration of Customs that yielded credible intelligence that triggered swift and comprehensive actions by the Customs Intelligence Unit and Headquarters Strikeforce.
He added that the seizures was in line with Section 63 “e” and “g” of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA), Cap 45 LFN 2004 as amended, adding that it falls under export prohibition schedule VI of the extant Common External Tariff, which prohibits the export of the two items.
“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 Traore Djakonba, Isiak Musa and Mohammed Bereta while the Kingpin, Berete Morybinet is currently at large,” he explained.
Ali however noted that the security agencies at all entry and exit points are on red alert to track and arrest him in order to for him to face justice.
He however said that the suspects arrested would soon have their date in court, as NCS would leave no stone unturned to bring them to justice, adding that such would be extended to any person or organization remotely connected to this or any illegal wildlife trade.
“While thanking our partners, especially the wildlife justice commission, let me give assurances of the Service determination to treat any and every information with utmost confidentiality and swift appropriate action(s) to reduce illegality,” he said.
He said that ever increasing and relevant functions of the global Customs community demonstrate the necessity of Customs actions to raise revenue, suppress smuggling and intercept illegal movement of items that can compromise national security, economy, and health and environment protection.
“Deforestation and depletion of wildlife especially the endangered species have been of global concern but with national collaboration, sharing intelligence and expertise, the world would stamp out indiscriminate killings of endangered species. NCS has been in collaboration with embassies of US, UK, Germany with other quarterly meetings that provide platform for shared experiences,” he added.