How Apapa Customs seized N952million Pangolin Scales
( Written by Silas Onuoha):
The Nigeria Customs Service, Apapa Area Command has attributed the latest seizure of a 20 feet container laden with pangolin scales and assortment of parts of mixed endangered species of various sizes such as Ivory/animal horns and Lion bones to use of credible inteligence.
Addressing maritime Journalists in Lagos, the out-going Customs Area Controller (CAC), of the Command, Comptroller Mohammed Abba-Kura, said, “the arrest was made on Thursday, January 21, 2021, based on credible intelligence, by Customs operatives at the Export Seat of the Command.
Abba-Kura, disclosed, “the container, which was processed for export was falsely declared as Furniture Components, in an attempt to evade arrest.
“Upon 100 percent physical examination, it was found to contain 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 seized items stood at 854,719 tons, with an estimated value of N952million.”
He continued, “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 percent 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 2017 ban on international commercial trade of 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 provisions of Section 147 of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap 45, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
“Also, the seizure is in line with schedule 6 of the Common External Tariff. One suspect identified as Mr. Felix Oname, of No. 17 Chief Joseph Udeth Street, Egan Igando-Lagos has been arrested in connection with seized items.
“After due investigation, the Service headquarters will take necessary action in line with environmental laws, guidelines, protocols and treaties on environment.
“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.”
More so, our Reporter gathered that Abba-kura has just been appointed an Acting Assistant Comptroller-General of Customs.