Nigerian Guardian

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Zone A, has seized about 147 sacks of pangolin scales weighing 9,504.1kg worth N10.26 billion.The Pangolins or scaly anteaters are mammals of the order Pholidota, with the demand for pangolin scales and meat driving pangolins toward extinction.

The Comptroller-General of Customs (CGC), Hameed Ali, who disclosed this in Lagos, said Nigeria, as a signatory to CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species), categorises this specie under absolute prohibition; therefore, its importation or trade is illegal globally.

Pangolin scales, like rhino horn, have no proven medicinal value, yet they are used in traditional Chinese medicine to help with ailments ranging from lactation difficulties to arthritis.

The scales are typically dried and ground into powder, which may be turned into a pill.He said: “On January 19, the roving team of the NCS, Federal Operations Unit, while on credible intelligence, uncovered an abandoned warehouse at Isheri Estate, Lagos, where 2x20ft containers were stacked.

“The containers were immediately evacuated to the premises of FOU Zone A, Ikeja, where physical examination revealed 147 sacks weighing 9,504.1kg of pangolin scales worth over N10.264billion,” adding that these would be handed over to the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency.

Ali said the Service also seized a total number of 3,067 bags of smuggled foreign parboiled rice (50kg), 3,722 of 25 litres and 1,040 of 4.73 litres of foreign vegetable oil and 14 units of exotic vehicles.Other items seized were: 575 pieces of used tyres, 703 cartons of foreign poultry products, 543 jerry cans of petroleum products and 416 bales of used clothing, among others, with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N303.2 million making a cumulative duty paid value of N10.5 billion within the month under review (January 7 to February 3, 2020).

Ali said the seizures underscored the Service’s determination to enforce all laws relating to importation and exportation of goods, thereby contributing to the economy, security and wellbeing of every Nigerian.He commended the Ag. Comptroller, FOU ‘A’, DC Usman Yahaya, and other members of the unit for a job well done, considering that he took over barely a month ago.

The Controller equally appealed to all well-meaning Nigerians to support the Service with information that could assist in discharging its statutory responsibilities in the interest of the nation.

“The borders are closed but not sealed, and our men cannot be everywhere. These criminals go through creeks and various means to bring these items into the country.

“If they succeed in crossing the border and into Lagos, we will still go after them; and we are not relenting in our duty to stop smuggling into the country,” he said.