By Steve Agbota

The Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Zone B of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), yesterday, intercepted 445.45kg of pangolin scales worth N3.95 billion.

Speaking in Kaduna State, the Customs Area Controller, Compt Ahmadu Shuaibu, said the pangolin scales were intercepted at Kebbi State with a suspect apprehended.

“We have declared our resolve not to allow illegal trading in endangered wildlife species and other smuggling activities to thrive in the Zone and, within two weeks, our operatives have upped-the-ante in the combat against smuggling of protected species and successfully intercepted a consignment of pangolin scale and its derivatives within the Kebbi State axis of the zone.

“Acting on actionable intelligence, the operatives stormed a hideout known as slaughter house in the suburbs of Zuru Town in Kebbi State, on Friday, May 24, 2024, at about 1600hrs. The team discovered and evacuated sacks of pangolin scales, which were transported to the HQ of FOU Zone ‘B’ in Kaduna. After careful examination and counting, the pangolin scales weighed 445.45kg,” he said.

Comptroller Shuaibu disclosed that the pangolin scales contravene Section 55 (1) paragraph C and I of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Act 2023. He stated further that the success of the operation lies in robust intelligence sharing between the unit and wildlife office.

“Let me, once again, explain that the pangolin species is one of the endangered species that is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flaura (CITES). It is instructive that Nigeria is  a signatory to the CITES Convention and all forms of trading in this species are clearly illegal.

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“The Nigeria Customs Service will continue to partner CITES, to forestall the identified species from going into extinction. The value of this seizure at the international market is N3.95 billion. One suspect was arrested in connection with this seizure, while the main suspect is currently at large.

“However, the Unit, in collaboration with other sister agencies, will not rest on its oars until the main suspect is arrested and brought to book. The offence contravenes Section 55 (1) paragraph C and I of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Act 2023. The success of this operation lies in robust intelligence sharing between the NCS and wildlife office and the resilience by operatives of the unit to leverage and utilise the coordinates given to them to make this arrest.

“We wish to put it on record that the success of the operation is unique, in that it was casualty free.

From empirical evidence, we make bold to say that those involved in the illegal trafficking of endangered species are hiding under it to launder money used in procuring drugs, arms and other illegal merchandise.

You can imagine the havoc this may have caused if it had escaped the eagle eyes of our operatives.

“l wish to call on the general public to continue to cooperate and stand with the NCS on its fight against smuggling. We must work together to salvage this country and to actualise the dream of our founding fathers. May l, at this juncture, repeat that the unit shall continue to enforce the Federal Government’s policies, in line with international best practices, no matter the campaign of calumny against the Service,” he said.

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