Customs arrest fleeing wildlife smuggling kingpin after two years on the run
The Nigeria Customs Service, Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone A has arrested Mr Felix Maiva, a wanted wildlife smuggler who, according to the agency, has been on the run since 2021.
Maiva’s arrest is a fallout of intense investigation and surveillance that followed the discovery of a 20 foot container found to contain 4,752kg of elephant ivory, 5,239kg of pangolin scales, 5kg of rhinoceros horns, and some lion skeletons.
According to a statement by the Public Relations Officer of the unit, Theophilus Duniya, made available to The Guardian on Friday, the illegal wildlife products were bound to be exported to Haiphong, Vietnam, in January 2021 through the Apapa Sea Port, Lagos.
The acting comptroller, FOU Zone A, Hussein Ejibunu, said the suspect is a shipping agent for an organised crime group that is wanted by the Nigeria Customs Service for their involvement in the January 2021 seizure and other organised wildlife trafficking offences.
He said it is worthy of note that the earlier wildlife seizure made by operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service in Apapa led to the conviction of a clearing agent, Mr Felix Olame, in June 2023 by a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Ejibunu, who commended the officers for their tact, intelligence and consistency in following up on the suspect, reiterated that smuggling suspects, no matter how far they run, would be caught by the long arms of the law.
He described the breakthrough as a morale booster for officers following up on similar cases and suspects.
“Maiva’s arrest comes as a result of an intelligence-driven operation by Officers of the Nigeria Customs Service and the Wildlife Justice Commission to support the global effort to fight crimes against endangered species,” he stated.
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