The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) on Wednesday said it arrested three suspected smugglers in connection with suspected smuggling of pangolin scales and elephant tusks worth N22.3 billion in Lagos.
While displaying the seizures to newsmen in Lagos, Comptroller-General of Customs Hammed Ali said 17,137.44 kilograms of pangolin scales packed in 196 sacks; 870.44 kilograms of elephant tusks and 4.6 kilograms of pangolin claws were evacuated at a location on eastern side of Ijeoma Street, Lekki, Lagos State after examination.
He said the seizures were in line with Section 63 e and g of the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA). The seized items, he said, fall under Nigeria’s export prohibition schedule VI of the extant Common External Tariff.
“Nigeria is a signatory to CITES convention hence cannot be used as a transit hub. This feast 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 said.
He said the three suspects arrested would soon have their date in court, as NCS would leave no stone unturned to bring them to justice. He said the service would extend the same treatment to any person or organization remotely connected to illegal wildlife trade.
“While thanking our partners, especially the wildlife justice commission, let me give assurances of the Service’s determination to treat any and every information with utmost confidentiality and swift appropriate action(s) to stem this tide of illegality,” he said.
“Deforestation and depletion of wildlife especially the endangered species have been global concerns 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 platform for shared experiences,” Ali added.