Customs Arrests Expatriates Over Smuggling Of Pangolin Scales, Elephant
Yusuf Babalola, Leadership
August 7, 2022
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), on Sunday, arrested three Vietnamese and
five others for attempted trafficking of 397.5kg pangolin scales and
ivories through Nigeria.
In a press statement made available to LEADERSHIP by the national public
relations officer of the Service, Timi Bomodi, he said the interception
were made in conjunction with the Wildlife Justice Commission (WJC).
According to him, preliminary investigation revealed the three Vietnamese
nationals are identified as 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 three suspects were arrested while sourcing for pangolin scales in
Nigeria, 397.5kg of which were found in their possession.
LEADERSHIP reports that the Wildlife Justice Commission is an international
body which works to disrupt and dismantle networks of illegal wildlife
Bomodi said the suspects were arrested through an intelligence-led
operation, saying: “the collaboration between NCS and WJC led to the
confiscation of 400kg of pangolin scales put up for sale on the illegal
“The two organizations were able to identify other members of the criminal
syndicate for arrest to further put a stop to the environmental destruction
posed by these unscrupulous elements. The arrested suspects have been
charged to court on various counts bordering on the illegal trade in
“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 organized global wildlife trafficking
“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 Nigeria Customs Service as a formidable ally in the
fight against wildlife trafficking.
“Initial crackdowns in 2021 had resulted in discoveries of 7.1 tons of
pangolin scales and 850 kgs of ivory, all of which were seized by the NCS.”
Bomodi also added that the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed
Ibrahim Ali (Rtd) commended officers of the Service for their efforts in
breaking the chain of illegal wildlife trade and unlawful deforestation and
tree felling activities.
The CGC assured the public that the Service will leave no stone unturned in
its efforts to support the rest of the world in protecting endangered
species and prevent deforestation.
“Nigeria Customs Service would never allow perpetrators of these crimes to
profit from it or escape the wrath of the law,” Ali was quoted as saying.
It will be recalled that in 2021, the Comptroller General of Customs at a
media briefing in Lagos showcased a seizure of pangolin scales and elephant
tusks worth N22.6 billion.
The achievement was widely acknowledged as a major boost to the fight
against the extinction of endangered wildlife species in Nigeria.
“It is pertinent to conclude that Nigeria Customs will continue to enforce
schedule 6 of the Common External Tariff which identified endangered
species as absolute prohibition for export.
“As a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species of fauna and flora (CITES), the Service 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 its biodiversity,” the Customs spokesman stated.