The Customs Comptroller General Strike Force Unit of the Nigeria Customs Service, Zone A, Ikeja has seized pangolin scales and claws with Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N1,728,788,750.00.
National Spokesperson for the Service, Deputy Comptroller of Customs Joseph Attah, disclosed that the seizures were made in two phases with two suspects arrested in connection with the seizures.
“Even though this criminality is not essentially a Nigerian thing, sadly some foreigners with active connivance of few Nigerians are bent on using our dear country as a transit route for illegal wild life trade”
You will recall that Nigeria Customs Service acting on credible intelligence provided by our international partners announced wild life Seizure billion 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 same international partner, wild life justice commission, and swiftly deployed our intelligence operatives with the Strike Force as a SWOT team, led by South-West Zonal Coordinator, Deputy Comptroller of Customs Ahmadu Shuaibu, intercepted of One (1) Mercedes Benz Bus with registration number BGT 256 LG along Kudirat Abiola Way Oregun lkeja, Lagos.
Giving a breakdown of the seizures, Attah who represented the Comptroller General of Customs revealed that the bus was found to contain a total of 1,009.5kg in addition with one (1) sack of Pangolin Claws by 5kg Total = 1,014.5kg with Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N1,728,788,750.00.
Also, 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.
According to him: “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 responsible member of the global community, we cannot allow our nation to be used as a conduit pipe for illegal trade on wild life.
“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 for more,
“We call on members of the Public to support the Service by providing timely information that will help us cripple this criminal network of illegal wild life trade through our country,
“As a Service, we give assurances of strict confidentiality and swift action(s) that will yield positive results as in this instance case” he concluded.
Attah said the spare of seizures, arrests and prosecution of offenders involved in the smuggling of the prohibited items is the journey towards making Nigeria a no go area for such illicit trades.
Also speaking, Oluyemi Babajide, an official of the Federal Ministry of Environment, representing the focal point for CITES, who spoke at the briefing said at the completion of the prosecution processes, the seizures will be handed over to Nigeria Environmental Enforcement Agency (NESREA).
Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos had earlier ordered the remand in the custody of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) five persons, who were accused of trying to export N22.3 billion worth of pangolin scale and elephant tusk seized by the same Strike Force Team A.
The five accused persons include: four Guinea Nationals and a Nigerian. Three of the accused who were present in court were arrested in Lagos in August 2021 by officials of the Nigeria Customs Service.
The accused who were identified as Troare Djakonba, Muyribein Bereye, Mohammed Berete, Sediki Berete (Guinean) and Isiaka Musa were arraigned before Justice Tijjani Rigim of the Federal High Court, Lagos on a four count charge.
However, Muyribein Bereye and Sediki Berete were not in court as they were said to be on the run. But counsel to Nigeria Customs Service told the court that effort was ongoing to ensure their arrest and are made to answer charges in Court.