Customs arrests Chinese for allegedly exporting N1.7b pangolin scales

Nigeria Customs Service

The Federal Operations Unit of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has arrested a Chinese in connection with about 329 sacks of pangolin scales with a duty-paid value of N1.7 billion thus making it two Chinese nationals apprehended in one week for the same offence.

Recall that last month over 55 sacks of the same pangolin and 218 pieces of elephant tusks were handed over to Nigeria Environmental Standards and Regulatory Enforcement Agency (NESREA).

Controller, Federal Operations Unit, Mohammed Uba, said that the act is against the international convention law which prevents some species of animals from going extinct through human activity.

He explained that the Warehouse Operations Team led by Assistant Comptroller, Mutalib Sule, acting on intelligence, searched an apartment at No. 64 Opebi Road, Off Toyin Street, Ikeja Lagos and evacuated the banned items on Monday March 5, 2018.

He said: “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. 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 aside 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, 2018 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” he said.

The Chinese national, Mr. Li Chaomin, said that he got approval from the Chinese Government to export the banned goods from Nigeria and after several efforts to obtain permission from the Ministry of Environment to export the animal scales failed, an official promised to give him the permit which authorised him to export the goods.

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