Home Maritime Digest Strike Force of the Nigeria Customs Service makes landmark seizure of Pangolin...

Strike Force of the Nigeria Customs Service makes landmark seizure of Pangolin scales, claws and Elephant tusks worth billions of naira

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By Alfred Omenihu fibmn

The Comptroller General’s Strike Force of the Nigeria Customs Service, Zone A Command has made landmark seizure of Pangolin scales, claws and Elephant tusks worth billions of naira with three suspects arrested in connection.

The seizures which comprises of 17,137.40kg of Pangolin scales contained in 196 sacks;
4.60kg Pangolin claws; and 870.44kg Elephant tusks worth about #22,283,747,850.00 were intercepted at a location on Eastern side of Ijeoma Street in Lekki, Lagos State after intense examination.

Displaying the items before newsmen at the Customs Training College, Ikeja, Lagos on Wednesday, the visibly elated Comptroller-General of Customs (CGC), Col. Hammed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd), said the agency intercepted the items based on credible intelligence and collaboration between the Customs Intelligence Unit (CIU) and the Headquarters Strike Force.

Explaining further, Ali said that the seizure which is the highest and largest so far in the history of the service is in line with Section 63(e) and (g) of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA), Cap 45 LFN 2004 as amended, and the items fall under Export Prohibition Schedule VI of the extant Common External Tariff, which prohibits export of same.

“Nigeria is signatory to CITES convention hence cannot be used as a transit hub,” he stated.

“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 to the NCS.”

According to Ali, the suspects, some of whom have confessed their involvement in the crime would soon be prosecuted, and the same treatment awaits any person or organization directly or remotely connected to this or any other illegal trade in wildlife.

“While thanking our partners, especially the wildlife justice commission, let me give assurances of the NCS’ determination to treat any and every information with utmost confidentiality and swift, appropriate action(s) to stem this tide of illegality,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Ali explained that the ever increasing and relevant functions of the global customs community inform the need for the agency to raise revenue, suppress smuggling and intercept illegal movement of items that can compromise national security, economy, health and environment protection.

“Deforestation and depletion of wildlife, especially the endangered species, have been a global concern, with nationals collaborating, sharing intelligence and expertise that would stamp out indiscriminate killings of endangered species,” he noted.

“In line with global best practices, Nigeria Customs Service has been in robust collaboration with embassies of United States of America, United Kingdom and Germany, with other credible International bodies already indicating interest to join our quarterly meetings that provide platform for shared experiences.”

*”This is the highest and largest seizure of pangolin so far in the history of the service*

*”In line with the Customs policy of encouraging and appreciating productivity, all officers involved in bringing this glory to the service and nation will be duly compensated,” the CGC said.*

Pangolin scales are in very high demand abroad due to its medicinal values and has become a lucrative trade undertaken by smugglers and aided by other economic saboteurs.

Since assuming duties as the Strike Force “A” Co-ordinator, Deputy Comptroller A.B Shuaibu, a highly mobile, purposeful, visionary and intelligent Officer has evidently been at the fore in the anti – smuggling campaign, interventions, revenue generation and trade facilitation.

The astute team player whose doggedness and zero tolerance for lawlessness is uncompromising, is always thankful to God and the Customs Management ably led by the Comptroller – General, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) for creating an enabling environment for their operations.
He equally acknowledge the applaudable efforts of his officers.