The Nigeria Customs Service has arrested one Mr Felix Maiva, a suspected wildlife smuggling kingpin acting as shipping agent for a syndicate that specialises in the illicit trade in endangered species
Maiva,who has been on the run for two years was part of a smuggling gang that attempted shipping 1 X 20 feet container found to contain 4,752kg of elephant ivory, 5,239kg of pangolin scales, 5kg of rhinoceros horns, and some lion skeletons to Haiphong, Vietnam, in January 2021 through the Apapa Sea Port,
Theophilus Duniya, a Superintendent of Customs and Public Relations Officer of the Federal Operations Unit, Zone A, who disclosed this in a press release, added that a Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos, had convicted one suspect in June 2023 for the seizure which Maiva had earlier been declared wanted.
The release quoted the Acting Controller of the FOU Zone A, Deputy Comptroller Hussein Ejibunu, describing the arrest as a morale booster in the fight against smuggling and efforts to arrest suspects evading the law.
According to Duniya “Mr Maiva’s arrest is a fallout of intense investigation and surveillance that followed the discovery of a 1 X 20 feet container found to contain 4,752kg of elephant ivory, 5,239kg of pangolin scales, 5kg of rhinoceros horns, and some lion skeletons. The illegal wildlife products were bound to be exported to Haiphong, Vietnam, in January 2021 through the Apapa Sea Port, Lagos-Nigeria.
“The suspect is a shipping agent for the BERETE organized crime group that is wanted by the Nigeria Customs Service for their involvement in the January 2021 seizure and other organized wildlife trafficking offences.
“It is worthy of note that the earlier wildlife seizure made by operatives of the Nigeria Customs Service in Apapa led to the conviction of a clearing agent, Mr Felix OLAME, in June 2023 by a Federal High Court in Lagos.
“Furthermore, the Ag. Comptroller Federal Operations Unit Zone A, Hussein K Ejibunu, who commended the officers for their tact, intelligence and consistency in following up on the suspect, reiterated that smuggling suspects, no matter how far they run, would be caught by the long arms of the law. He describes the breakthrough as a morale booster for officers following up on similar cases and suspects.
“Maiva’s arrest comes as a result of an intelligence-driven operation by Officers of the Nigeria Customs Service and the Wildlife Justice Commission to support the global effort to fight crimes against endangered species” the release stated