Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) yesterday arrested a Chinese, Mr. Li Chaomin, in connection with Pangolin scales with a duty paid value (DPV) of N1.73 billion. The banned items, which were packed in 329 sacks, were impounded at Opebi area of Ikeja in Lagos.
However, Chaomin said that he got approval from Chinese government to export the banned Pangolin scales goods from Nigeria.
According to him, after several efforts to obtain permission from the Ministry of Environment to export the animal scales failed, he contacted his country.
Speaking with journalists, the Chinese said he had been trading in Nigeria since 2015 on China candles, power bank and lighters.
“Some business people approached me a few months ago that China market needed Pangolin scales which they used in producing medicines.
“When I went to China, I found that the Chinese use it to produce medicines to cure various diseases.
“I applied for permit in Nigeria but I was not able to get the permit… All the documents are in my email address.
“I bought the pangolin plates and put them in my warehouse because I thought I was operating with legal documents.’’
According to Chaomin, he usually goes to Cameroon to get the pangolin plates for export.
This latest seizure was the second within a month.
Last month over 55 sacks of the same pangolin and 218 pieces of elephant tusks were handed over to the Nigeria Environmental Standards and Regulatory Enforcement Agency (NESREA).
It was learnt that the NCS’ Warehouse Operations Team (WOT) led by Assistant Comptroller, Mutalib Sule, acting on intelligence, searched an apartment at No. 64, Opebi Road, off Toyin Street, Ikeja in Lagos and evacuated the banned items.
According to the Controller of the Federal Operations Unit (FOU), Ikeja, Comptroller Mohammed Uba, the act is against the international convention law which prevents some species of animals from going extinct through human activity.
He noted that the seizure was in line with the provisions of Section 147 of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap 45, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
Uba noted that the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES 1973), entails that Customs Administration all over the world must protect wildlife by intercepting illegal trade on such animals.