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Customs, commission arrest three Vietnamese, others for trafficking pangolin scales

By Adaku Onyenucheya
08 August 2022   |   2:43 am
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in collaboration with Wildlife Justice Commission (WJC), has arrested three Vietnamese and five other suspects in connection with the seizure of 397.5 kilogrammes

[FILES] Pangolin. Photo: JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/GETTY<br />

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in collaboration with Wildlife Justice Commission (WJC), has arrested three Vietnamese and five other suspects in connection with the seizure of 397.5 kilogrammes of pangolin scales trafficked through Nigeria.

         
According to the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, preliminary investigation revealed that three of the suspects, identified as Vietnamese, are high-ranking members of a major organised crime group involved in the trafficking of ivory, pangolin scales, rhino horns and lion bones from Mozambique and South Africa through Nigeria to Vietnam. 
 
The Comptroller-General, in a statement, signed yesterday by Customs National Public Relations Officer, Timi Bomodi, said the three suspects were arrested while sourcing pangolin scales in Nigeria, of which 397.5kg were found in their possession.
       
Ali noted that through an intelligence-led operation, the collaboration between NCS and WJC led to the confiscation of 400 kilogrammes of pangolin scales put up for sale on the illegal network, adding that the two organizations were able to identify other members of the criminal syndicate for arrest.
       
He said to further put a stop to the environmental destruction posed by these unscrupulous elements, the arrested suspects have been to court on various counts bordering on the illegal trade in wildlife.
         
“These arrests came as part of a proactive enforcement operation targeting the top echelon of wildlife traffickers worldwide, and are assessed to have caused unprecedented disruptions to organised global wildlife trafficking networks.
       
“This is the fourth major illegal wildlife arrest in one year resulting from the strategic partnership between the Nigeria Customs Service, Wildlife Justice Commission and other foreign governments. It demonstrates the commitment of the NCS as a formidable ally in the fight against wildlife trafficking. Initial crackdowns in 2021 had resulted in discoveries of 7.1 tonnes of pangolin scales and 850 kilogrammes of ivory, all of which were seized by the NCS,” Ali noted.
         
The Comptroller-General said the Nigeria Customs will continue to enforce schedule 6 of the Common External Tariff, which identified endangered species as absolute prohibition for export.
       
Ali noted that the Nigeria Customs Service, as a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of fauna and flora (CITES), will not relent in its enforcement responsibilities by suppressing to the barest minimum, the unsustainable and unethical exploitation of the nation’s fragile ecosystem and biodiversity.
     
He commended officers of the service for their efforts in breaking the chain of illegal wildlife trade, unlawful deforestation and tree felling activities.
     
He, however, assured the public that the service will leave no stone unturned in efforts to support the rest of the world in protecting endangered species and prevent deforestation.