BY YUSUF BABALOLA |
The Apapa Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), has intercepted an export container concealed with 162 sacks of pangolin scales weighing 8,800 kg and 57 sacks of mixed endangered species of various sizes such as Ivory/animal horns, lion bones and others destined for Haiphong in Vietnam.
Speaking yesterday at Apapa port, the area controller of the Command, Comptroller Mohammed Abba-Kura said the seizure was based on credible intelligence of operatives at export seat of the command.
According to Abba-Kura, the Command was successful at detecting and arresting a unit of 20 feet container, after it was processed for export and falsely declared as furniture components in an attempt to evade arrest.
He said upon 100 per cent physical examination, it was found to contain pangolin and mixed endangered species, adding that the total weight of aforementioned items stood at 854,719 tonnes and valued at N952 million.
“Presently, one suspect Mr. Felix Oname of No.17 Chief Joseph Udeth Street, Egan Igando, Lagos is currently in detention and is being interrogated. After due investigation, the headquarters will take necessary action in line with environment laws, guidelines, protocols, conventions and treaties on environment.
“For the avoidance of doubt, our action of impounding this container is in line with provisions of Section 147 of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap 45, Law of the Federation of Nigeria 2004. Also, the seizures is line with schedule 6 of the Common External Tariff,” he said.
He explained that 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.
He said that pangolin-scaly, shy and sensitive are believed to be the world’s most trafficked non-human mammals, accounting for such as much as 20 per cent of all illegal wildlife trade.
“The animals’ 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 of the scales, experts estimate that more than a million pangolin were poached from year 2000 through to 2014,” he added.