The Value News

CGC Strike Force Makes History With A N22.3 Billion Pangolin And Elephant Tusks Seizure

By Stephen Ubanna

 When the Comptroller General of Customs, CGC, Strike Force Team A, under the close watch of Ahmadu Suaibu made a seizure of four Container load of unprocessed Teakwood, allegedly planned for export to the Asian country of China last  June, through the premier Lagos port of Apapa,  not many were surprised.

 This is because of his track records at the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone C,  during the Administration of Kayode Olusemire, the then Comptroller of the Command and now an Acting Assistant Comptroller General and Coordinator, NCS, Zone C.  But unknown to many the Interventionist unit has a bigger plan ahead. It had kept as a closely guided secret chasing a major seizure that would shock Nigerians and the international Community.

DC Shuaibu: Coordinator, CGC, Strike Force, Team A, Getting Harder On Smugglers

 Shuaibu, could do all that because as the Head of FOU, Zone C, Command, Operations, he had kept as a guided secret his major operations which was said to  have forced many VIP, foreign Par boiled rice and vehicle smugglers including importers with their agents flying  Containers in the south east geo-politi, another DCG,cal and those involved exporting prohibited  products  underground.  

Indeed, his experiencess at FOU, Zone C, covering the south east states of Abia, Anambra, Eboyi, Enugu, Imo and the south –south states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross river, Delta, Edo and Rivers state, may have given an insight on how to deal with the smugglers in the south west states of Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo , Oyo and Osun states.

 One major Contraband seizure in of the Shuaibu led Headquarters Strike Force, Team A, in the recent time, with the support of the Customs Intelligence Unit, CIU, personnel, was the multi-billion Pangolin and Elephant Tusks.  Hameed Ali, a retired Army General and ComptroIler General, NCS and Elton Edoreh, Deputy Comptroller General, Enforcement, Inspection and Investigation including DCG Modupe Olubiyi and Smart Akande, the Customs Lawyer, were said to have showed up in Lagos to see things themselves.  The Customs Comptroller General may have  seen his visit to Lagos on August 4, 2021, to show  case the multi-billion naira pangolin and Elephant Tusk to the public as one of his happiest moment in the service going by the smiles on his face  while addressing the press.

He may have alluded to the support of the Wildlife Justice Commission in making the Seizure that have been applauded in different parts of the world. This may have informed why he has given the assurance that the service  will ‘’treat every information with utmost Confidentiality’’ and appropriate actions taken  to stem this tide of illegality’’.    

He noted that the service extensive Collaboration yielded  Credible intelligence   that ‘’triggered swift  and Comprehensive action  by the CIU, personnel and the Headquarters Strike Force, Team  personnel’’ The Value News  learnt that at the instance of Shuaibu, the Headquarters Strike Force, Team A Coordinator, Hamawa  Isa, a Chief Superintendent of Customs and the Interventionist  unit  Head of Operations  was said to have  raised a Team headed by one Dapo Efeni,  a Deputy Superintendent of Customs Efeni, who was  said to  have led the operation  on the Eastern side  of Ijeoma street, Lekki, described  as an exclusive area for  the rich and whee major Companies in Lagos state , including the $1.7 billion  Lekki Deep sea project , which is a joint venture project  between the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, China Habour Engineering Company and the Lagos state government are situated.

DSC Efeni and his Team members who may not have been intimidated by the tight security in the street were said to have broken into the house where the sacks of Pangolin and Elephant Tusks were parked, preparatory for alleged  export to China.  Given the large quantities of sacks of the Pangolin and Elephant Tusks found in the house when it was said to have been broken into by the Team members   clearly shows that  it may have taken the local  smugglers and their Foreign Collaborators who had planned  to smuggle out the items through the Lagos porst of Apapa or Tin can Island port between two  to three years to source for the endangered species Pangolin and Elephant Tusks in different markets in different markets in the African Continent., particular, Republic of Congo and South Africa.

Pangolin Scales And Elephant Tusks Seized By CGC Strike Team A

The  sacks of Pangolin and Elephant Tusks, which were  transferred to the adhoc Team Operational base at the Customs Training College  were said to have examined and the following prohibited animal species items were found. The items are 196 sacks of Pangolin Scales, weighing 17,137.40Kg, 870Kg of Elephant Tusks and 4.60Kg of Pangolin claws which the Customs Comptroller General had put the Value at about N22.3 billion based  on the available price , per Kg, of the items in the International . His worry was that  even if the Nigerians and their Chinese  Collaborators had succeeded in smuggling  out the Pangolin and Elephant Tusks  into China to deliver to those that need it, they may  not have been able to get get up to a  billion naira, urging Nigerians ‘’to be patriotic and be proud of their own  country like people from the US, Uk, France, Germany and China, among others.

  The CGC, Strike Force Team A, may have trailed the sacks of Pangolin and Elephant Tusks to its location at Lekki when information leaked out that Nigerians who are being used by some Chinese who were hiding it  in order to smuggle it out from Nigeria to china through any of the Lagos seaports, even when it is against the Law of the country’s Law to do so.

There is no gain saying the fact that Pangolin and Elephant Tusks export falls under ‘’ the Export Prohibition schedule VI, of  the Extant Common External Tariff which prohibits their  exportation’’.  It is not surprising why the  CGC Strike Team A, had to seize the  endangered animal species pangolin and Elephant  Tusks  because  ‘’it is in line  with section 63 ‘’e’’ and ‘’g;; of the Customs and Exercise Management  Act, CAP 45 LFN, 2004 as amended.

Given the worldwide ban  on the trade  in pangolins and Elephant Tusks  which was said to have been unanimously  agreed  at a meeting   of the 181 member nations  of the United Nations, including Nigeria, of the  Convention  on International  Trade  in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora,  CITES,in September 2016.

 The Customs Comptroller General, may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when he said that the   service would do everything within its capacity to ensure that the country is not used as a ‘’transit hub for pangolin and elephant tusks in Africa’’ being a signatory to the CITES Convention.

Many believe that the NCS could make a headway in seizing the sacks of Pangolin and elephant tusks in the country  because of ‘’the robust Collaboration  with Embassies  of the North American country of the United States,  United  States, US, United Kingdom, UK,  Germany  and other international Credible bodies, already indicating interest  to join  their  quarterly meetings that provide platform  for shared experiences.

 Ali, the Customs boss, who could not hide his feelings had said that  ‘’deforestation and depletion of wildlife , especially the endangered species which have been a global concern  with nations Collaborating , sharing  intelligence  and expertise  that  will stamp out the indiscriminate killing of the endangered species  will continue to be given top priority in Nigeria’’.

The arrest of three suspects, comprising of Nigerians and Foreigners , may have sent a signal  to those involved in the illegal trade of Pangolin and Elephant Tusks that’’ it is no longer going to be business as usual’’.  Those arrested by the Customs Police at the instance of the Headquarters  Strike Force, Team A, in connection with the seized multi-billion naira Pangolin and Elephant Tusks  include Djakonba, Isiak Musa  and Mohammed Bereta. Berete Morybinet, a Chinese who was said to have masterminded the  illegal business, was said to have escaped  from the house where the Pangolin and Elephant Tusks were parked before the Customs Headquarters  Strike Force ,Team , members arrived for the operation.

Ali: CG Of Customs

  The Customs helmsman was said to have sent message to the runaway  Morybinet   that if he thinks ‘’he  can evade the  long arm of the Law, he has made a mistake, as he will surely be apprehended in his hideout in any part of the country to face trial for trading in prohibited  Pangolin and Elephant Tusks.  He was said to have urged him to surrender himself to the Law Enforcement agencies or he will surely be fished out which may be too bad for him.

As a prelude to  getting him, Ali, was said to have urged the security Operatives  and the Customs personnel at the Land border Areas to tighten up security  to ensure that he will not escape to Republic  of Benin or any other country within West African  sub-region and then, use the opportunity  o return to China, his home country.

Stephen Ubanna

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