From Uche Usim, Abuja
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Wildlife Justice Commission (WJC) have intercepted 397.5kg of pangolin scales and arrested eight suspects in connection with the contraband.
Three of the arrested suspects were identified as Vietnamese. They were involved in the attempted trafficking of large amounts of pangolin scales and ivory through Nigeria.
Customs Spokesman, Mr Timi Bomodi, said preliminary investigation revealed the three Vietnamese nationals as high-ranking members of a major organised syndicate 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.
“It is important to note that the Wildlife Justice Commission is an international body which works to disrupt and dismantle networks of illegal wildlife trade.
“Through an intelligence-led operation, the collaboration between NCS and WJC led to the confiscation of 400kg of pangolin scales put up for sale on the illegal network. The two organisations 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 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,” he explained.
Bomodi described the latest seizure as the fourth major illegal wildlife arrest in one year resulting from the strategic partnership between the NCS and WJC and other foreign governments. It demonstrates the commitment of the NCS as a formidable ally in the fight against wildlife trafficking.
He added that initial crackdowns in 2021 had resulted in discoveries of 7.1 tons of pangolin scales and 850kgs of ivory, all of which were seized by the NCS.