By Stephen Ubanna
For years , Donkey skin exporters and their Chinese Agents with their Customs Collaborators at the nation’s seaports have been smiling to the Bank as the government loses billions of naira annually. It was a thriving business which was closely guided by the syndicate across the country.
Investigation by The Value News shows that the export of donkey skin became a thriving business in the country shortly after some Chinese Companies which convert it into raw materials for production of different goods started buying it from dealers through their agents who were scattered all the country. The donkey skins, according to a medical expert , are the basis of a Chinese traditional remedy drug called ejiao, used for treating a range of blood conditions and as increasingly a general wellness product. According to the sources , the Chinese ejialo producers, who are concentrated in the remote eastern province of Shandong, consume more than four million tonnes of donkey skins annually , mostly sourced from African countries including Nigeria.
The international market value shows that in the past decade the donkey skins have surged in value to about $400 per tonne . This is because the Asian country donkey population has dwindled. It is not surprising why the unprecedented global trade on the donkey skin, much of it being smuggled across Borders or through the seaports.
Many believe that with the demand for donkey skins rising sharply in China, wildlife traffickers have moved into the trade in different parts of Africa. A donkey dealer told The Value News in south east Nigeria that since the news of the usefulness of the donkey skins became pronounced , the rich and politicians hijacked the business as it is no longer within the reach of the poor who were the original dealers the price has gone up per piece. It was learnt that a piece of the donkey skin was sold between N30,000.00 and N35,000.00.
He disclosed that the Chinese agents who are scattered all over the country scouting for where to buy the donkey skins have penetrated the security agencies who provide them security. The donkey dealer confirmed that the rich individuals and politicians could buy between 20-30 truck load of donkey at a go from the ancient city of Kano, Katsina and Borno states , in the north, for slaughtering and exporting the skin to China.
It was gathered that the donkey skins business had been a thriving business in the south east and exported through Onne seaport over the years before it spread to the south west in the recent time. Insiders told the Magazine the donkey skins syndicate in the south west may have got a match in Mohammed Aliyu, the FOU, Zone Area Comptroller, who had given a free hand to his patrol teams to source and impound Contrabands which must be transferred to the Government Ware House, GWH at all costs.
Only recently, one of the Command patrol teams acting on intelligence were said to have raided a private warehouse at Ibadan, Oyo state, where a ” 40” Container loaded with donkey skins and ready for export was impounded.
Eyewitness account disclosed that no fewer than three mobile police men were stationed at the entrance to the warehouse which was located at a remote area of the city but could not stop the Customs patrol team who had a mandate to force their way into the premises if challenged by any security guard on duty.
This is why Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, the Inspector General of Police, IGP, must take a close watch at the state Commissioners of Police, who in turn should monitor the Divisional and the Area Commanders to know the type of duties that officers are assigned to do. Take for instance the mobile officers that were found at the entrance to the warehouse where a” 40” Contained loaded with donkey skins was impounded may not be there on official duties but on a special arrangement.
It could not be ascertained
The seizure of the alleged”40” Container load of donkey skins by the team despite the tight security mounted by the mobile police on guard at the entrance to Ware House was an indication that there is no hiding place for donkey dealers and their Chinese agents in the south west geo-political region. Indeed, Aliyu, the Area Comptroller, may have initiated an investigation to identity the owners of the ware House and the type of business carried out in the place.
The Command Operations and Lagos Roving team may have exposed the donkey skin illicit deal in the south west when it made a confirmed seizure of about 100,000 pieces of dried donkey loaded into two ”20” Containers at the Okota axis of the Alimosho local government area of Lagos state valued at about N15 billion. The seizure , according to sources were made on May14, 2019. It is the highest single seizure to be made by any Customs patrol team across the country in the last two decades.
Many believe that there may be more pieces of the donkey skins in the ”40”, Container load of donkey impounded at Ibadan .Note that on May 12, 2019, the Operations and Lagos Roving team , had made about 70 pieces of donkey skins in an undisclosed location in Lagos state, which opened their eyes that there may be more .
With the spectacular seizures that have been made in the recent time by the Aliyu boys, Maritime watchers expect Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, to find a way of rewarding the officers to do more.
The Magazine cited a particular seizure
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