By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Apapa Command of the Nigeria Customs Service on Tuesday announced that it has intercepted an export container loaded with pangolin scales, lion bones and other wildlife carcasses worth N952,000,000 destined for export to Vietnam.
Giving a breakdown of the seizure to Journalists at the command, the Customs Area Controller, Compt Muhammed Abba-Kura said the container with number CSLU 2362640 was used to conceal 162 sacks of pangolin scales weighing 8,800 kg. 57 sacks of mixed endangered species of various sizes such as Ivory/animal horns, lion bones etc destined for Haiphong, Vietnam.
The total weight of the aforementioned items stood at 854,719 tonnes and valued at Nine hundred and fifty-two million Naira N 952,000 000
According to him, on Thursday, 21st January, 2021 based on credible intelligence, the Customs Operatives at the Export seat of Apapa Command arrested the 20 feet container which was processed for export and falsely declared as Furniture Components in an attempt to evade arrest.
However upon 100% physical examination, it was found to contain the contraband items.
Already, he said a suspect has already been arrested in connection with the seizure and he is being interrogated
In the NXP, Compt Abba-Kura said the exporter declared furniture components, but upon inspection, the Customs found out that logs of woods were used to conceal the sacks of pangolin scales and other items.
Speaking, the Controller said “The Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES 1973) entails that Customs Administration all over the world protects wildlife by intercepting illegal trade on such animals. Pangolins-scaly, shy, and sensitive-are believed to be the world’s most trafficked nonhuman mammals, accounting for as much as 20% of all illegal wildlife trade”
“Their scales, which are made of keratin (the material in fingernails) have no scientifically proven curative properties but are in high demand for use in traditional Chinese medicine”
“Consequently, all eight species are threatened with extinction: Despite a 2017 ban on international commercial trade on pangolin the scales, experts estimate that more than a million pangolins were poached from 2000 through to 2014.
“For the avoidance of doubt, our action of impounding this container is in line with the provismns of Section 147 of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap 45, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004. Also, the seizure is line with schedule 6 of the Common External Tariff”
“To this end, all efforts will be geared towards ensuring that such dangerous and harmful environmental crimes are detected and prevented. Equally, all economic saboteurs will be made to face the full wrath of the law” Abba-Kura stated.
While giving an insight into how the container was intercepted, the Controller said he personally launched out an investigation on the container following an article posted online by Royal Malaysia Customs
I got in contact with Comptroller Alfa, and I advised that he meet with Malaysian representative in WCO so that we can know the particulars of the containers, he forwarded it to me and I swung into action
We got the name of the exporter, his vague address and so on. After this, we decided to put our Eagle eye on all export going to Asia, and we have been targeting this for quite some Time, luckily enough we got intelligence of this one and we allowed it to come into the port
“In the NXP, what they declared was furniture components, but upon inspection, the Customs found out that logs of woods were used to conceal the sacks of pangolin scales and other items”