*Arrests 3 foreign nationals
- It is the highest wildlife seizure ever made by Customs – Says CGC
(Report by Udeme Clement):
The Customs Strike Force office, at the Training College, Ikeja, Lagos, was the beehive of activities yesterday, as the Comptroller-General of Customs -CGC Hameed Ali and his management team from Abuja, gathered to address Journalists on massive seizure of Pangolin scales and Elephant Tusks worth over N22.3billion in monetary value.
Speaking, CGC Hameed Ali, disclosed that the seizure of N22,283,747,850.00 (approximately N22.3billion) Pangolins is the highest seizure of wildlife ever made by Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
He applauded the Coordinator of Customs Strike Force, Zone ‘A’, DC A. Shuaibu and his team for using what he described as high level of intelligent to intercept the items, even as the team swiftly arrested three suspects, who are foreign nationals in connection to
His assertion: “For a seizure of this magnitude, the officers deserve special commendation from the Service management.”
The CGC further revealed that the prohibited items were uncovered by the eagle-eye of Strike Force team at Lekki area of Lagos.
His words:. “The ever increasing and relevant functions of global Customs community demonstrate the necessity of Customs actions to raise revenue, suppress smuggling and intercept illegal movement of items that can compromise national security, economy, health and environmental protection.
“Deforestation and depletion of wildlife, especially the endangered species have been of global concern to nations collaborating, sharing intelligence and expertise that will stamp out indiscriminate killing of endangered species”.
He went on: “In line with global best practice, NCS has been in robust collaboration with embassies of US, UK and Germany with other credible international bodies already indicating interest to join our quarterly meetings that provide a platform to share experiences.
“I am therefore happy to announce that our extensive collaboration yielded credible intelligence that triggered Swift and comprehensive actions by the Customs Intelligence Unit and the Headquarters Strike Force.
“This led to evacuation of sacks of different killograms of pangolin scales and Elephant tusks at a location on Eastern side of Ijeoma Street, Lekki, Lagos State.
“Proper examination of the sacks revealed,
17,137.40kg of pangolin scales in 196 sacks, 870.44 kg of Elephant tusks and 4.60kg pangolin claws.
The seizure is in line with section 63 “e” and “g” of CEMA, cap 45 LFN 2004 as amended.
“It also falls under Export Prohibition Schedule V1 of the extant Common External Tariff, which prohibits their exportation”.
The Customs boss pointed out: “Nigeria is a signatory to CITES convention, hence cannot be used as a transit hub.
The feat is a testimony of what sincere collaboration between nations can achieve for our world and individual nations in particular.”
“While thanking our partners , especially the wildlife justice commission, let me give assurances of the Service’s determination to treat anyone and every information with utmost confidentiality and swift appropriate actions, to sterm this tide of illegality.
“Already, three suspects who are non-nationals have been arrested.
They are Mr Traore Djakonba, Mr Isiak Musa and Mohammed Bereta. The kingpin, Mr Berete Morybinet is on the run, thinking he can evade the long arm of the law.”
OBSERVATION AT THE SCENE :
Our Correspondent, who covered the event, observed that aside from CGC Hameed Ali and his team from Customs headquarter, Abuja, other senior Customs officers witnessed the world press conference on the massive seizure of wildlife.
These include, AGC in charge of Zone ‘A’, the Customs Area Controller (CAC), Federal Operations Unit, FOU Zone ‘A’, the Commandant of Training College.
Customs Intelligence Unit, the National Public Relations officer of the Service, Customs Zonal PRO, Lagos, among others.