• Customs Intercepts N10bn Pangolin Scales In Six Months
The Federal Operations Unit, (FOU), Zone A, Ikeja of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) said it has seized pangolin scales and elephant tusk worth N10billion in six months.
A worldwide ban on trade in pangolins was unanimously agreed to at a meeting of the 181 nations including Nigeria of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in September 2016.
But, unscrupulous Chinese businessmen have alleged serially attempted to export the rare item out of Nigeria.
Prior to the 2016 ban, China had been legally imported pangolin scales, mainly from Africa, for use in traditional Chinese medicine and the pharmaceutical industry.
Customs sources told our correspondent last week in Lagos that, beneath all seizures of pangolin and elephant tusk, there are Chinese.
Sources hinted that, the Federal Operations Unit created a special squad called the ‘warehouse operation team’ under the leadership of Assistant Controller Mutalib Onsachi Sule. It was learnt that all arrests in connection with smuggling of pangolin and elephant tusk out of the country have been aborted by the team.
Shipping Position Daily gathered that the warehouse operation team on the 14th of February evacuated elephant tusk and pangolin scales worth N2.3bn at a warehouse at Ikeja while on the 6th of March, another pangolin scale was intercepted by the same team at Opebi, Ikeja.
In another operation on March 9th, at another warehouse in Opebi, the warehouse operation team once again intercepted N1.5bn pangolin scales while on the 1st of August, 21 sacks of pangolin and four pieces of elephant tusks estimated at N1.5billion were intercepted at Oba Elegushi international market, Ajah.
However, the source who pleaded anonymity because he wasn't authorised to speak to the press informed that, of the four operations carried out by the Mutalib- led warehouse officers, Chinese are behind the illegal possession and alleged exportation of pangolin scales in Nigeria.
The source also disclosed that all of them have been charged to court and have been granted bail by the court of law.
"Since the ban on trading on pangolin, Nigeria has made the largest seizure of pangolin scales in the world with 13,203kg followed by Japan 7,000kg and all interception were done by the warehouse operations team led by Mutalib and assisted by SC Isah Adamu”, the source added.
"The seizure has raised global awareness for Nigeria zero tolerance for the exportation of the endangered species that the United Nation has indicated interest to kit Nigeria Customs for effective performance of their jobs."
"The team has been able to enforce the international convention that, no trading in pangolin in any domestic or international market because the animal is considered as endangered specie and the scales cannot be got without making the animal extinct, the source hinted.