•Intercepts 1,014.5kg of Pangolin scales worth N1.728 billion

By Godfrey Bivbere & Prisca Achonu

THE Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, has decried the usage of Nigeria as a transit route for the smuggling of Pangolin scales and claws, even as the Service in collaboration with the Wild Life Justice Commission, WLJC, intercepted 1,014.5 kilograms of Pangolin scales worth over N 1.728 billion.

Comptroller General of Customs, CGC, Hammed Alli, said attempts to turn Nigeria into a smuggling route will be resisted by the Service since most of the items so far intercepted by Customs are not from Nigeria.

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Alli said the seized items include five kilograms of Pangolin Claws, which were stocked in 15 sacks.

He also noted that two suspects, Salif Sanwidi and Sunday Enenyi were arrested in connection with the crime, noting that investigation is ongoing to unveil the identity of others involved in the crime.

The Customs boss who was represented by the National Public Relations Officer of the Service, Joseph Attah, said “We received another credible intelligence from WLJC 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.

“Two suspects had 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 wildlife trade contravenes section 63 “e” and “g” of CEMA Cap 45 LFN 2004. Nigeria is a signatory to the 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 in wildlife.

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

He said that “there are already some international collaborators who are around to conduct DNA tests on the previously arrested pangolins and the recently arrested ones in order to appropriately ascertain their country of origination, genetic identification, their age as well other necessary information about their origination.

“Thes cases of criminality are not essentially done by Nigerians, Nigerians are not responsible for these seizure crimes that are being committed, those who buy these pangolin scales are not even Nigerians, they are mainly Asian countries and some well-developed economies of this world. The only Nigerians that are involved are those who are lured by money to either provide a warehouse or to give a part of their house in which these pangolins can be stored.

“There are experts on the ground to conduct further investigations on these issues as well as conduct DNA tests to verify the origination of these pangolin scales. We have international collaborators who are really passionate about bringing a stop to these criminal traits.

“For us to curb the continuous use of Nigeria as a transit point for crime, we are breaking the chain of criminality by making arrests, prosecutions and to also make these culprits pay for their crimes.

Recall that Nigeria Customs Service acting on credible intelligence provided by our international partners announced wildlife seizure over N22 billion with arrested suspects currently facing prosecution”.

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