Customs Seize Elephant Tusks, Pangolin Scales Worth ₦22Bln in Lagos, Nigeria

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has intercepted and seized a record amount of pangolin scales and claws, and elephant tusks worth ₦22 billion (about $54 million), the head of the service has said.

The Comptroller-General of Customs, Colonel Hameed Ibrahim Ali, in a statement said the contrabands were seized in the Lekki area of Nigeria’s commercial hub, Lagos State.

The seizure included 17,137 kg of pangolin scales, 44 kg of elephant tusks and 60 kg of pangolin claws.

Three foreign nationals were arrested by Customs in connection with the illegal wildlife trafficking while a fourth person, believed to be the kingpin, is on the run.

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“The suspects arrested will soon have their date in court as NCS will leave no stone unturned to bring them to justice,” Ali said.

According to wildlife experts and law enforcement officials, Nigeria has become a major transit point for African pangolins going to Asia. They cite insecure borders, weak law enforcement, corruption, and access to large ports as the major challenge to combating the crime.

The NCS “extensive collaboration” with international organizations and British, U.S., and German officials to improve anti-smuggling efforts led to the seizure from Lekki, the customs boss said.

Pangolins, a critically endangered animal, are among the most trafficked mammals in the world because of the demand for their scales in traditional Chinese medicine.

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The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) reported that between 2014 and 2018 the number of pangolin scale seizures increased tenfold to 185 tonnes meaning at least 370,000 animals would have been killed.

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