Comptroller General of Customs, of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.) on Wednesday said that the Service intercepted pangolin scales and elephant tusks worth N22.3 billion in Lagos.
The Comptroller General, who made the disclosure while addressing newsmen, said the pangolin scales which weighed 17,137.44 kilogrammes; pangolin claws, 4.60 kilogrammes and the elephant tusks weighing 870.44 kilogrammes, were evacuated after proper examination at a location on eastern side of Ijeoma Street, Lekki, Lagos State.
Ali said that three suspects had been arrested in connection with the seizure and attributed the seizures of the contraband items to extensive collaboration between the Customs Intelligence Unit and Headquarters Strike Force
While justifying the Service’s action on the provisions of Section 63 “e” and “g” of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA), Cap 45 LFN 2004 as amended, the Comptroller General said the seized items fell under Export prohibition schedule VI of the extant Common External Tariff, which prohibited their exportation.
He expatiated: “Nigeria is a signatory to CITES convention, hence cannot be used as a transit hub. This feat is a testimony of what sincere collaboration between nations can achieve for our world, and individual nations in particular.
“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”, Ali added.
The Customs boss said the suspects arrested would soon be prosecuted, stressing that the Service will not relent in its sustained efforts to apprehend exporters or importers of contraband items.
While expressing the Service’s appreciation to its partners, especially the wildlife justice commission, Ali re-assured of the Service’s determination to treat any information with utmost confidentiality and appropriate action to stem this tide of illegality.
He said: “Deforestation and depletion of wildlife, especially the endangered species, have been a global concern with nationals’ collaboration, sharing intelligence and expertise that would stamp out indiscriminate killings of endangered species.
“In line with global best practices, NCS has been in robust collaboration with embassies of US, UK, Germany with other quarterly meetings that provide a platform for shared experiences”, Ali added.