Officials of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have seized a total of 1,014kg of pangolin scales and claws valued at about N1.73 billion.
The NCS officials also reportedly arrested two persons named Salif Sanwidi and Sunday Ebeyin over the seized items.
Customs spokesman, Deputy Controller Joseph Attah, while speaking with newsmen in Lagos on Monday, said experts from the Department of Forestry, Federal Ministry of Environment, are expected to conduct tests on the pangolin scales to determine the country where the animals where killed.
“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. This led to the interception of one Mercedes Benz Bus with registration number BGT 256 LG along Kudirat Abiola Way Oregun, Ikeja, Lagos. Upon 100 percent examination, the bus was found to contain 1,009.5kg of pangolin scales and 5kg of pangolin claws totaling 1,014.5kg with duty paid value of N1,728,788,750.00.
“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. For the avoidance of doubt, illegal wild life trade contravenes Section 63e and g of the Customs and Exerce Management Act (CEMA) Cap 45 LFN 2004.
“Nigeria is a signatory to Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. As a 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,” he said.
An official of the Department of Forestry, Federal Ministry of Environment, Oluyemi Babajide, said the seized items would be destroyed inline with the international laws.
In August, three Guineans and a Nigerian were arrested for illegally trading in pangolin scales, claws and elephant tusks worth N22 billion.
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