FG probes alleged trafficking of Pangolin Scales, Ivory Tusks to Vietnam, Hong Kong
By Idowu Isamotu, Abuja
The Federal Government has said it has initiated investigations into the seizure of over 2,500 kilograms of Pangolin Scales by the Vietnamese Customs Service.
It also said 600 kilograms of Ivory Tusks; 8,200 kilograms of Pangolin scales and 2,000 kilograms of Ivory Tusks alleged to have originated from Apapa, Seaport, Lagos, Nigeria were seized by the Hong Kong Custom Service.
The Minister of Environment, Suleiman Hassan disclosed this in a chat with journalists while reacting to media reports about the seized items.
The items are said to have high market values especially for the use of the Pangolin scales as medicinal ingredients in parts of Asia, especially China.
Hassan said, “The Ministry has initiated the investigation of the reported illegal trade by communicating officially with the Vietnamese and Hong Kong CITES Management Authority with a view of furnishing us with the documents that will be forwarded to the Nigerian Customs Service and INTERPOL for further investigation”.
He added that it was very unsettling when information was received that the Vietnamese Customs made the discovery in concealed containers declared as consigning knocked wood by the Vietnamese company – VIC Thanh Binh Import-Export Company Limited with office address at Lien Hong Commune, Dan Phuong District, Hanoi.
The minister stressed that more disturbing is the fact that Nigeria was mentioned as the source “in spite of our laudable conservation efforts which informed our leading war against Illegal Wildlife Trade in the West African Region.”
According to him, the source could not have been Nigeria as pangolin were near extinction in the country and that the Elephant population in Nigeria, besides being under strict conservation regimes, would not be able to provide such high volume of Ivory.
He said, “Nigeria is being used as a transit route for illegal wildlife trade and the image of our nation is being tarnished globally’’.
He reiterated the country’s commitment to the fight against illegal wildlife trade, noting that Nigeria signed and ratified the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1974 and to give municipal credence to this Convention, Nigeria promulgated the Endangered Species (Control of International Trade and Traffic) Decree No.11 in 1985 now enacted as Endangered Species Act 2016.