Bassey Inyang in Calabar
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has said it has handed over hundreds of snakes, frogs, and lizards, allegedly imported illegally into the country by an unnamed importer, to the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service Agency (NAQSA).
Making the disclosure Thursday in Calabar, the Customs Public Relation Officer for the Cross River and Akwa Ibom States Customs Area Command, Mr. Mohammed Awalu, said the animals which were imported from Cameroon, were handed over to the agency for analysis and further investigations.
Awalu told journalists that the 400 snakes, 200 frogs and 100 gecko lizards handed over to NAQSA were of different species.
He said the animals were packed into three cartoons, loaded into a container and shipped into the Calabar, Cross River State Waterways through a vessel, MV Flesh.
He said two persons were arrested in connection with the illegal importation and had been handed over to NAQSA for further questioning.
He said the customs service was yet to ascertain the motive behind the importation of the animals into the country.
Awalu said the Customs Service did not open the boxes due to expert advice that they should not be opened in open space because the animals were alive and active and could be very dangerous.
He said the animals were handed over to the NAQSA because they were responsible for keeping anything that required quarantine.
However, the Customs spokesman said the two persons arrested told officials that they were clearing agents working for the importer of the animals whom they claimed resided in Lagos.
Awalu said adequate arrangements had been made for the feeding of the animals in the custody of agency officials.
He said the Customs would stop at nothing to unravel the motive behind the importation of the animals into the country from Cameroon.