Operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have apprehended three suspected smugglers in possession with elephant tusks and pangolin scales worth N22.3 billion in Lagos State.
Speaking with newsmen on Wednesday, August 4, in Lagos, Col. Hameed Ali, the Controller 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 in Lekki, after proper examination.
According to the Customs CG, NCS’s extensive collaboration yielded credible intelligence that triggered swift and comprehensive actions by the Customs Intelligence Unit and Headquarters Strike force.
“The 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, health and environmental protection,” Ali stated
“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.
“In line with global best practices, NCS has been in robust collaboration with embassies of US, UK and Germany with other credible international bodies already indicating interest to join our quarterly meetings that provide platform for shared experiences.
“I am therefore happy to announce that our extensive collaboration yielded credible intelligence that triggered swift and comprehensive actions by the Customs Intelligence Unit and the Headquarters Strikeforce. This led to the evacuation of sacks of different kilograms of Pangolin scales and Elephant tusks at a location on Eastern side of Ijeoma street, Lekki, Lagos State.
Proper examination of the sacks revealed the followings: 17,137.40kg of pangolin scales (196 sacks) 44kg of Elephant Tusks, 60kg of Pangolin claws. All with estimated value of N22,283,747,850.00.
The Controller General said the seizure is in-line with Section 63 “e” and “g” of CEMA, Cap 45 LFN 2004 as amended, adding that it also falls under Export prohibition schedule VI of the extant Common External Tariff which prohibits their exportation. Nigeria is a signatory to CITES convention hence cannot be used as a transit hub.
Ali said the feat is a testimony of what sincere collaboration between nations can achieve for our world, and individual nations in particular.
“While thanking our partners, especially the wildlife justice commission. Let me give the assurances of the Service determination to treat any and every information with utmost confidentiality and swift appropriate action(s) to stem this tide of illegality.
“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.
“The suspects arrested will soon have their date in court as NCS will leave no stone unturned to bring them to justice. We will extend same treatment to any person or organization remotely connected to this or any illegal wildlife trade.”