The Nigeria Customs Service, Apapa Area Command has announced the arrest and seizure of a 20 feet container laden with of pangolin scales and assortment of parts of mixed endangered species of various sizes such as Ivory/animal horns, lion bones, etc.
A statement by the Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Mohammed Abba-Kura said the arrest was made on Thursday, 21st January, 2021 based on credible intelligence, by Customs operatives at the Export Seat of the command.
Abba-Kura said the container which was processed for export was falsely declared as Furniture Components in an attempt to evade arrest, adding that upon 100% physical examination, it was found to contain 162 sacks of pangolin scales weighing 8,800 kg, 57 sacks of mixed endangered species of various sizes such as Ivory/animal horns, lion bones etc; destined for Haiphong, Vietnam.
He put the total weight of the seized items at 854,719 tons, with an estimated value of Nine hundred and fifty-two million Naira (N952, 000,000).
The customs area controller notes that the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES 1973) entails that Customs Administration all over the world protects wildlife by intercepting illegal trade on such animals. “Pangolins—scaly, shy, and sensitive—are believed to be the world’s most trafficked nonhuman mammals, accounting for as much as 20% of all illegal wildlife trade. Their scales, which are made of keratin (the material in fingernails) have no scientifically proven curative properties but are in high demand for use in traditional Chinese medicine.
“Consequently, all eight species are threatened with extinction. Despite a 2017 ban on international commercial trade of the scales, experts estimate that more than a million pangolins were poached from 2000 through to 2014.
“For the avoidance of doubt, our action of impounding this container is in line with the provisions of Section 147 of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap 45, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004. Also, the seizure is line with schedule 6 of the Common External Tariff.
The customs boss said one suspect identified as Mr. Felix Oname (m) of No. 17 Chief Joseph Udeth Street, Egan Igando-Lagos is currently in detention and facing interrogation in connection with the seizure.
“After due investigation, the Service headquarters will take necessary action in line with environmental laws, guidelines, protocols, conventions and treaties on environment”, Abba-Kura said, adding:
“To this end, all efforts will be geared towards ensuring that such dangerous and harmful environmental crimes are detected and prevented. Equally, all economic saboteurs will be made to face the full wrath of the law.”