The Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘A’ of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has intercepted sacks of elephant tusk and pangolin shell worth N493.5 million.
The unit also arrested a Chinese suspect, Ko Sin Ying, in connection with the seized items.
Displaying the items at the FOU headquarters in Ikeja on Thursday, its Area Controller, Comptroller Mohammed Uba Garba said the seizures comprised 55 sacks of pangolin shell weighing 2001kg and valued at N408.32 million, and 218 pieces of elephant tusk weighing 343kg and valued at N85.2 million.
According to Garba, the items were evacuated from an apartment on No. 38, Ogundana Street, off Allen Avenue, Ikeja by the Warehouse Operations Team of the unit led by Assistant Comptroller Mutalib Sule.
He disclosed that the team, acting on intelligence received the previous day, had mounted surveillance on the area and on tip-off, raided the apartment, where the gatekeeper confirmed the occupant to be a Chinese national, Ko Sin Ying.
Garba noted that the export of such endangered species of animals like elephant and pangolin breaches international protocols and conventions, which means that the customs have increased responsibility for its implementation.
According to him, “The United Nations charter on the preservation of endangered species entails that customs administrations globally protect wildlife by intercepting illegal trade on such animals.
“It further prevents the killings of endangered species since the tusks are only available after the killing of the elephant or pangolin,”
He said the items would be handed over to the Nigerian Environment Standards and Regulatory Enforcement Agency (NESREA) for further investigations, adding that such collaboration would protect the natural habitat and the endangered species.
Meanwhile, Ying, who spoke through an interpreter being paraded before newsmen, denied knowledge and ownership of the items.
The suspect, whose lawyer, Francis Obaseki, identified as Kio Sui-Ying, said that customs men brought the items from another place to his residence at No. 2 Ondo Close, Ikeja, and started questioning him about them.