The Nigeria Customs Service(NCS),Apapa Area 1 Command, has intercepted a 20 feet export container laden with pangolin scales and other mixed endangered species worth N952 million in market value.
The Command’s Customs Area Controller(CAC), Compt. Mohammed Abba-Kura, who disclosed this on Tuesday in Lagos at a media briefing stated that the container was falsely declared as furniture components to evade arrest but one suspect, Mr. Felix Oname has been apprehended in connection with the consignment and is being detained for interrogations and investigations.
A 100 percent physical examination of the container with NO. CSLU 2362640 bound for Haiphong, Vietnam, revealed that it had 162 sacks of pangolin scales weighing 8,800kg; 57 sacks of mixed endangered species of various sizes of Ivory, animal horns; lion bones, among others.
According to the CAC, “The total weight of the afore–mentioned items stood at 854,719 tonnes and valued at N952 million,” adding that the Service would take necessary actions in line with environmental laws, guidelines, protocols, conventions and treaties on environment to prosecute the offenders and discourage such illegal trade among Nigerian shippers.
He said that the seizure is in sync with the provision of Section 147 of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap 45, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria,2004 and in line with schedule 6 of Common External Tariff(CEF).
Findings by MMS Plus revealed that Pangolin is believed to be the world’s most trafficked non-human mammal as tens of thousands of Pangolins are poached every year, killed for their scales for use in traditional Chinese medicine and meat, a delicacy among some ultra-wealthy in China and Vietnam. In spite of the ban on international commercial trade of the scale, it is estimated that more than a million Pangolins were poached between 2000 and 2014.
Abba-Kura gave more insight on the specie, saying, “Pangolins–scaly, shy and sensitive – are believed to be the world’s most trafficked nonhuman mammals accounting for as much as 20% of all illegal wildlife trade. Their scales which are made of keratin (the material in fingernails) have no scientific proven curative properties but are in high demand for use in traditional Chinese medicine.
“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. Consequently, all eight species are threatened with extinction.” He added.
Abba-Kura noted that all efforts would be geared toward 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.
Over the years the Nigerian Customs has announced seizure of large quantities of the different animal partsdestined to Asian countries.