Customs Make Another Multi Billion Pangoline Scales Seizure in Lagos

*Finger International Cartel

The Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, has, for the second time in as many months, intercepted a huge pack of Pangolin scales estimated at N1.7billion in Lagos. The seizure, which is sequel to a similar one in August with a rough estimate of a whooping N22bn.

Comptroller-General of the Service, Hameed Alli, made the disclosure on Monday while briefing newsmen on ongoing investigations over where the consignments are headed.

Alli, who wa represented by NCS spokesman, Joseph Attah, noted that some unscrupulous Nigerians have lent themselves to being part of an organized international syndicate attempting to turn the country into a transit route for illegal wildlife trade.

“Even though this criminality is not essentially a Nigerian thing, sadly some foreigners with the active connivance of few Nigerians are bent on using our dear country as a transit route for illegal wildlife trade,” he said.

Alli who pointed out that the service is still investigating the August seizure added that the service was in the process of gathering more information from those arrest over the August incident when it got credible information from international partners that more were being moved. Investigations, he narrated, led to the interception of the newest consignment.

“You will recall that Nigeria Customs Service acting on credible intelligence provided by our international partners about two months ago, announced wildlife seizure worth over N22billion with arrested suspects currently facing prosecution.

“In the course of further investigation to arrest other members of the gang, we received another credible intelligence from the same international partner, Wild Life Justice Commission, and swiftly deployed our intelligence operatives with the Strike Force as a SWOT team. This led to the interception of One Mercedes Benz Bus with registration number BGT 256 LG along Kudirat Abiola Way Oregun, Ikeja, Lagos.

“Upon 100 percent examination, the bus was found to contain the following: Pangolin Scales by 60kg, Pangolin Scales by 35kg, Pangolin Scales by 54kg, Pangolin Scales by 64kg, Pangolin Scales by 66kg, Pangolin Scales by 58kg, Pangolin Scales by 50kg, Pangolin Scales by 73kg, Pangolin Scales by 61kg, Pangolin Scales by 64kg, Pangolin Scales by 92kg, Pangolin Scales by 89kg, Pangolin Scales by 60kg, and Pangolin Scales by 92.5kg, totalling 1,009.5kg of Pangoling scales plus one sack of Pangolin Claws by 5kg.”

The customs boss who emphasized that section 63 “e” and “g” of CEMA, Cap 45 LFN 2004 makes trade on endangered animal species, including but not limited to Pangoline, an offense, revealed that two suspects were arrested over the haul which has an estimated Duty-Paid value put of N1,728,788,750.00.

“Two suspects have already been arrested in connection with this Seizure. They are Mr. Salif Sanwidi and Mr Sunday Ebenyi. They will also be charged to court to answer for their crime.

“For the avoidance of doubt, illegal wild life trade contravenes Section 63 “e” and “g” of CEMA Cap 45 LFN 2004.
“Nigeria is a signatory to Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. As a responsible members of the global community, we cannot allow our nation to be used as a conduit pipe for illegal trade on wildlife.”

While commending international partners for their collaboration in hunting down those involved in the illegal deal, Alli reiterated the commitment of the federal government in meeting all its obligations.

“We remain committed to the quarterly meeting with embassies of USA, UK and Germany and welcome on board other International organizations that are joining the fray.

“We commend Wild Life Justice Commission for their continued strong commitment to this course through provision of credible and actionable intelligence, including technical aids. NCS appreciates this working synergy and looks forward to more.”

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