By Ishola Balogun
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Apapa Area Command, Lagos, has seized a huge haul of mixed endangered species including lion bones and pangolin scales, lion bones worth N952 million.
The Customs Area Controller of Apapa Command, Comptroller Mohammed Abba-Kura disclosed that the items were being taken out of the country to Vietnam when they were intercepted.
Speaking during a press briefing on Tuesday, Abba-Kura said that the items were contained in a one unit 20 feet container with number CSLU 2362640 heading to Haiphong, Vietnam.
He said that the items, comprising 162 sacks of pangolin scales weighing 8,800kg and 57 sacks of mixed endangered species of various sizes such as ivory/animal horns, lion bones and others were falsely declared as furniture components.
He said that the total weight of the items stood at 854,719 tonnes, valued at N952 million.
“On Jan 21, based on credible intelligence, Customs operatives at the export seat of Apapa command successfully detected and arrested one unit of 20 feet container which was processed for export and falsely declared as a furniture component.
“Immediately the container was opened, logs were seen in front, and upon 100 percent physical examination of the container, elephant tusk, and the pangolin scales were seen concealed by the logs,” he said.
He said that an agent had been arrested and detained after an unnamed lady was picked by operatives.
The comptroller said that after due investigation, the customs service headquarters would take appropriate against culprits, saying: ‘’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.
“Pangolins – scaly, shy and sensitive – are believed to be the world’s most trafficked nonhuman mammals accounting for as much as 20 percent of all illegal wildlife trade.
“Their scales that are made of keratin (the material in fingernails) have no scientific proven curative properties but are in high demand for use in traditional Chinese medicine, ’’ he added.