By Chinedu Eze
The Murtala Muhammed International Airport ( MMIA), Command of Nigerian Customs Service ( NCS), Ikeja , Lagos has arrested two Chinese nationals over attempt to take out of the country prohibited items on the export list, consisting 678 pieces of elephant tusks and eight sacks of Pangolin weighing over 381 kilogrammes.
The attempt by the Chinese nationals, Customs said, contravenes Schedule 6 of the Nigerian Exports Prohibition List, which prescribes as illegal any attempt to export wild animals and endangered species.
The Chinese nationals, according to the Customs Area Comptroller of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Command, Frank Nduka Allannah, have been remanded in the custody of the Nigerian Customs at the Lagos Airport pending further investigation.
The impounded items consisting scales of Pangolin , the most trafficked endangered animal that eats its own flesh was meant for export where it would have been used for Chinese medicine.
According to Allannah, the impounded items will be handed over to the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA).
Allannah said eagled-eyed Customs officials at the Export Shed of the MMIA, intercepted the prohibited items while they were being taken out of the country by the Chinese who claimed ownership of the items.
He said upon physical examination of prohibited item, the Chinese were subsequently arrested and are still being held in custody.
He said the Elephant tusks were in two compartments of 387 unprocessed pieces , while 271 had been processed into combs and hand bangles.
The Customs boss, however, did not give the street value of the prohibited items, saying Customs personnel in the relevant units were already carrying out the monetary assessment to ascertain the value.
On further steps to be taken he said,“ We do not intend to give the names of the Chinese nationals yet. They have been arrested and are in Customs custody. They will be handed over to the relevant security agencies.
‘” The prohibited items will be handed over to the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency for further action on the prohibited item.”