Justice Yellim Bogoro of the Federal High Court in Lagos has remanded three Vietnamese, two Nigerians, a Cameroonian and a Guinean in prison over illegal dealings in pangolin skin and elephant’s ivory.
Justice Bogoro ordered that the foreigners and their Nigerian accomplices be kept behind bars after they were arraigned before the court by the men of Nigeria Customs Services (NCS) for alleged illegal possession, dealing, assembling, storing, smuggling and trading of the prohibited animal’s products.
The Vietnamese are Phan Viet Chi, Phan Hong Quan and Duong Van Thang, while the Nigerians are: Babangida Mahmoud; Olamilekan Adenekan.
They were docked alongside the Guinean, Fofou Dadjo Evariste and the Cameroonian on an eight-count charge.
The prosecutor, Michael Osong, informed the court that all the defendants committed the offences between 2018 and 2022, in Lagos.
Osong also maintained that the offences contravened Sections 3(6); 1(14)(a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Cap. M17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under section 1(14)(a) of the same Act; Sections 516 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap. 38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.
He also insisted that the offences violated sections 64; 64(1)(b) of the Customs and Excise Management Act, 2004, and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 166 of the Customs and Excise Management Act, Cap. C45, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
The prosecutor further told the court that the offences contravened Sections (1) & (2)(a) of the Customs and Excise (Special Penal and Other Provisions) Act, 2004 and were punishable under section 3(3) of the same Act, and Section 5(1) of the Endangered Species (Control of International Trade and Traffic) Act, 2004 and punishable under section 5(1)(b) of the same Act.
The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
The development made Osong to urge the court to remand them in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services (NCoS) until the determination of the charge.
But the defence counsel told Justice Bogoro that he has filed separate bail applications on behalf of all the defendants and that same has been served on the prosecution.
Justice Yellim Bogoro has adjourned the matter to September 30, for trial and the hearing and determination of the bail applications.