By Richards Adeniyi
A consignment of wildlife body parts (Pangolin) with a duty paid value of N1.7billion has been intercepted by the operatives of the Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, Ikeja, Lagos.
The seizure was made in an apartment where the items were warehoused at 64 Opebi Road, Off Toyin Street, Ikeja Lagos recently.
A Chinese national, Mr. Li Chaomin, who is suspected to be the importer was also arrested in connection with the goods.
Comptroller of the FOU, Mohammed Uba at a news briefing recently said the Unit had stormed the house following a tip-off it had received.
He explained that a physical examination of the items showed that the Pangolin was banned in the country.
It would be recalled that the Unit had also impounded 55 sacks of the same pangolin and 218 pieces of elephant tusks, which were all, handed over to the Nigeria Environment Standards and Regulatory Enforcement Agency (NESREA) recently.
The seized Pangolin were in 329 sacks weighing 8,492kg.
Uba explained that the Customs Administration all over the world protects wild life by intercepting illegal trade on such animals.
He added, “As you are aware, Pangolins are the only known mammals that have large and protective keratin scales covering their skin. After a surge in poaching across Asia, the international illegal wildlife trade is now also a growing threat to African pangolin species. These scales were sourced from other African countries to be trafficked.
“The tragedy of the unsustainable demand for their body parts in the illegal wildlife trade, the better chance they have from being saved from extinction. It was based on that the World Pangolin Day was set side globally to talk about pangolins and to help spread awareness about one of the world’s most vulnerable but least-known species. This year’s Pangolin Day was held February 17 to that effect.
“For the avoidance of doubt, our action is in-line with the provisions of Sections 147 of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap 45, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 (power to search premises)”.
Uba said that the seized items will be handed over the NESREA as usual for further investigation.