The Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), on Friday, said it has arrested a daredevil wildlife smuggler, Felix Maiva, in Lagos.
Maiva, according to a press statement made available to LEADERSHIP by the public relations officer of FOU Zone A, Theophilus Duniya, had been on the run since 2021.
According to him, Maiva planned to export elephant ivories, pangolin scales, rhinoceros horns, and some lion skeletons to Haiphong, Vietnam, in January 2021 through the Apapa Seaport in Lagos.
The Customs PRO noted that his arrest was a fallout of intense investigation and surveillance that followed the discovery of a 1 X 20 feet container found to contain 4,752kg of elephant ivory, 5,239kg of pangolin scales, 5kg of rhinoceros horns, and some lion skeletons.
“The Nigeria Customs Service Federal Operations Unit Zone A has arrested Mr Felix Maiva, a wanted wildlife smuggling kingpin who had been on the run since 2021. Maiva’s arrest is a fallout of intense investigation and surveillance that followed the discovery of a 1 X 20 feet container found to contain 4,752kg of elephant ivory, 5,239kg of pangolin scales, 5kg of rhinoceros horns, and some lion skeletons. The illegal wildlife products were bound to be exported to Haiphong, Vietnam, in January 2021 through the Apapa Sea Port, Lagos-Nigeria.
“The suspect is a shipping agent for the BERETE organized crime group that is wanted by the Nigeria Customs Service for their involvement in the January 2021 seizure and other organized wildlife trafficking offences,” Duniya stated.
He further disclosed that the acting Customs Area Controller, Hussein Ejibunu, applauded the officers for their deligence and intelligent driven operation that led to the arrest of the wanted wildlife kingpin.
“It is worthy of note that the earlier wildlife seizure made by operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service in Apapa led to the conviction of a clearing agent, Mr Felix OLAME, in June 2023 by a Federal High Court in Lagos. Furthermore, the acting CAC commended the officers for their tact, intelligence and consistency in following up on the suspect, reiterated that smuggling suspects, no matter how far they run, would be caught by the long arms of the law.
“He describes the breakthrough as a morale booster for officers following up on similar cases and suspects. Maiva’s arrest comes as a result of an intelligence-driven operation by Officers of the Nigeria Customs Service and the Wildlife Justice Commission to support the global effort to fight crimes against endangered species,” the Customs spokesman added.