Customs: Shuaibu’s Parting Gift, N3.2 Billion Worth Of Pangolin Scales, Claws And Elephant Tusk Seizures

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 By Stephen Ubanna

 For weeks, there have been rumours making the rounds that Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS was ready to reconstitute the headquarters Strike Force., across the country inaugurated October 3, 2021.

 The rumour became more pronounced towards the tail end of January 2021, forcing Ahmadu Shuaibu, a deputy Comptroller and Coordinator of the Lagos, Team A, to put the members of the Team on the alert  that they may   be disbanded at any  time for another set to take over and continue from where they have stopped.  The Customs Comptroller General may have taken advantage of the recent redeployment of 37 Comptrollers across the country to release the names of the reconstituted   Headquarters Strike Force Teams across the country . 

 Comptroller Joseph  Attah, a former National Public Relations Officer  and now  Area Controller, Kebbi Command, who had represented  Ali, the Comptroller General, at the presentation of the Headquarters  Strike Force Team A,839.4Kg.  of Pangolin Scales and 145Kg. of Elephant Tusks, seizures to the press in Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve centre, on Wednesday, February 9, 2022,  to also introduce Deputy Comptroller Mohammed Yusuf, as a replacement for  Shuaibu, who was beaming with smiles as officers and men  of the service including members of the fourth estate of the realm pour  encomium  on his outstanding performance in the ad-hoc interventionist unit over the last 13 months. Informed sources told The Value News tat the briefing had been fixed before the redeployment came out and could not be cancelled. It was therefore not very surprising that the Comptroller General has no option by to sent Comptroller Attah, the former Customs spokesperson to represent him and he did creditably well without any contradiction.

Compt. Attah Address The Press On Behalf Of The CG, At Headquarters Strike Force, Team A, Lagos

 The Team had started with wild life seizure of about N2 billion  loaded  in a Mercedez Benz Bus with registration  number  BGT 256 LG, along Kura Abiola way Oregun, Ikeja Lagos in October 2021 and  ended  the regime with the interception and seizure  of another set  Pangolin Scales,  and Elephant Tusks ,  loaded  in a Sienna Bus , with registration number  KRD541 HH with Chasis number DZA23C955338572, on February 2, 2022,  at the Lekki area of Lagos state valued at about  about N3.2 billion.

Recall that 196 sacks of angolin Scales,  of 17 and 137.40 Kg, 870.44 Kg of Elephant Tusks and 60 kg of Pangolin Claws worth about N22 billion that was  intercepted at  a location  on  the Eastern  side  of Ijeoma street, Lekki, Lagos state by the Team in 2021. The spectacular seizure forced Ali, the Comptroller to be in Lagos to address the press amidst cheers. Three suspects were arrested are currently being prosecuted but Beret Morybinet, the alleged Kingpin is still on the run.

Giving an insider information of the recent Pangolin Scales and Elephant Tusks seizures at the Lekki axis of Lagos  Metropolis, an aggrieved Comptroller Attah had said that   ‘’some  foreigners  with active connivance of Nigerians had engaged in the deal.  The good news was that the four occupants of the suspected  Sienna Bus, in which the wildlife species were loaded   were taken to  the Command premises at Ikeja and after 100 %Joint physical  Examination found to have contravened  section  63 E and G of Customs Exercise Management Act , CEMA, Cap 45, LFN, 2004.

Pangolin Scales And Elephant Tusks Seizures By Headquarters Strike Force Team A

Attah, the Kebi state Area Comptroller, who had represented Ali, the Customs Comptroller General, at the Headquarters Strike Force Team A, briefing, had said that  ‘’the Lekki Operation was conducted  in Collaboration  with the Wildlife Justice  Commission , targeting  the illegal  trade  of wildlife in the African Continent and Asia’’.

Note that Nigeria is a signatory  to the Convention  on International  Trade on Endangered Species of WildFauna and Flora. It is not surprising why the government has repeatedly made it clear to those that care to listen that ‘’as a responsible member of the global Community it will never allow the country ’’to be used as a conduit pipe  for illegal  wildlife trade’’.

The Kebbi Command,  Comptroller  may have spoken the mind of the Customs boss  when he said  that’’ the country remain committed  to the quarterly meeting  with the embassies  of the North American country of the United States, US,  United Kingdom, UK,  Germany and the World Bank’’ to stem this illegality.

 Appealing to other international Organisations  that are willing to join the  foray to do so’’,  an elated Ali, had  said it is the only way to expose  the unlawful transactions.  He may have singled out   the Wildlife Justice Commission for commendations for their continued commitment to this course through ‘’the provision of credible actionable intelligence to the NCS’’.

 The Customs helmsman had said that the public could do much better to support the service by providing ‘’timely information that will help cripple this criminal network of illegal wildlife trade through the country. He has assured those that would volunteer such sensitive information of ‘’strict Confidentiality and swift actions that will positive results’’.

Pangolin Claws Intercepted By Headquarters Strike Force Team A

There are other spectacular seizures that were said to have been made by the Team  ranging from  teak wood, charcoals , hides and skin,  bags, second hand  clothing, shoes and textiles, worth millions of naira, at the Lagos ports which was said to have been  made possible by the Team Information Communication  Technology, ICT. Even the Team, had played a major role in recovering millions of lost money for the government. As at December, 2021, the Team, was said to have recovered millions of SUCH lost revenue for the government.

 Many wouLd want Deputy Comptroller Yusuf to take off from where Shuaibu, His predecessor and his Team members had stopped to be able to make an appreciable impact and force the area Comptrollers at the seaports to sit up. He must be ready to carry his officers along  in the running of the affairs of the team to avoid throwing  creating moles that may sabotage his good intentions.

There are indications that Deputy Comptroller Shuaibu, who has prepared his handover note will finally quit the office  for the new Coordinator to take over on Friday, February 11, 2022 and proceed to Customs Headquarters, where he may seek for a one month Leave in order to have a enough rest after thirteen months of pursuing the Fraudulent importers with the agents at the Lagos  ports of Apapa, Tincan Island, Port Multi-services Terminal Limited, PTML,  Kirikiri-Lighter Terminals, Phases I &II including all the Bonded Terminals in Lagos and smugglers in the south west geo-political region.

 Take for instance, between October 2020 and November 2021,  the Team , had made  a total seizure of 103 , of Contraband,11 with a total Duty Paid Value of , DPV,  of about N8 billion through’’ credible intelligence, diligent enforcement  and zero Compromise disposition’’.

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