NCS Arrests Three Vietnamese, Eight Suspects over Attempted Trafficking of Pangolin Scales

Eromosele Abiodun

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), in partnership with Wildlife Justice Commission (WJC) has arrested three Vietnamese nationals and eight suspects in their attempt to smuggle 397.5kg of pangolin scales and ivories through Nigeria. 

The arrest according to a statement issued and signed by the Public Relations Officer, in the office of the Comptroller-General of Customs, Deputy Comptroller, Timi Bomodi, said the arrest is the fourth major illegal wildlife arrest in one year resulting from the strategic partnership between the Nigeria Customs Service and the Wildlife Justice Commission.

The statement stated that three of the arrested suspects were 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, the statement added, were arrested while sourcing for pangolin scales in Nigeria as 397.5kg amount of Pangolin scales 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 400 Kg 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 organized global wildlife trafficking network. 

“The partneeship 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 tonnes of pangolin scales and 850 kgs of ivory, all of which were seized by the NCS, “the statement reads. 

The Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali, while commending officers of the Service for their efforts in breaking the chain of illegal wildlife trade and unlawful deforestation and tree felling activities, 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. 

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