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Nigeria Customs Seizes N22bn Pangolin, Elephant Parts

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Elephant Parts

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has seized 196 sacks containing 7,137 kilogrammes of pangolin scales, 4.6 kg of pangolin claws and 846.34 kg of ivory after it busted a network of people who are involved in exporting prohibited animal products in Lagos.

The raid, carried out towards the end of July, the service said, was aided by the intelligence provided by the Wildlife Justice Commission.

All the wildlife products were destined for export, according to a statement released by the customs and the Wildlife Justice Commission.

Additional suspects are being sought in respect to this seizure, some of whom are believed to have already fled Nigeria.

This is the ninth largest seizure of pangolin scales in the last three years.

According to the statement, the arrested suspects are part of a well-known transnational criminal network operating in West Africa.

They are linked to approximately 50 per cent of all major pangolin scale seizures over the past three years.

“These arrests have severely disrupted this network,” the statement said.

The Comptroller-General of Customs, Mr Hameed Ibrahim Ali, said the seized contrabands were worth N22 billion.

Mr Ali said authorities had arrested the culprits – three foreign nationals and were pursuing a fourth, whom he described as the kingpin of the operation.

“The suspects arrested will soon have their date in court as NCS will leave no stone unturned to bring them to justice,” Mr Ali said.

“The Wildlife Justice Commission wishes to congratulate Nigeria Customs for their quick response resulting in this outstanding outcome against a well-established transnational organised crime network,” said Mr Steve Carmody, Wildlife Justice Commission Director of Programs in the statement.

“The truly horrific reality of this seizure is that even at seven tonnes, there were still eight other larger seizures in the last three years, and this network was responsible for at least half of them.

“We look forward to the arrest of the other wanted subjects and seeing proceeds of crime provisions applied to seize the ill-gotten gains of this network,” he added.

Large-scale and sustained trafficking of pangolin scales, sourced for jewellery and as a component of traditional Chinese medicine, is driving the species to the brink of extinction.

In 2020, Wildlife Justice Commission investigators were offered staggering quantities of pangolin scales, outnumbering the offers of ivory across all the organisation’s investigations for the first time.

This fact demonstrates the continued availability of pangolin scales and ongoing marketplace demand, despite COVID-19 travelling restrictions.

The Wildlife Justice Commission also identified that wildlife traders were stockpiling their products in order to resume trade as soon as restrictions were eased, a concern that has now been justified by seizures of massive amounts of pangolin scales such as this one.

The Wildlife Justice Commission had pointed out in recent reports that pangolin scales are increasingly substituted for, and trafficked alongside, ivory, a trend that the organisation already identified in 2019.

As ivory prices fall, traffickers are increasingly turning to pangolin scales; in combined shipments, the proportion of pangolin scales has surpassed the volume of ivory.

“This operation is a great example of how transnational wildlife crimes should be investigated and the tangible results that public-private partnerships can achieve by working together to disrupt organised crime,” said Mr Carmody.

“This operation is a major victory for law enforcement and for the Wildlife Justice Commission, but we must acknowledge that other actors will rise to take the place of those recently arrested.

“The Wildlife Justice Commission will use the evidence gathered through this arrest to continue our investigations into the trafficking of endangered wildlife and support the efforts of law enforcement agencies fighting wildlife crime. It takes a network to defeat a network.”

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Oyo Begs 1,115 C of O Applicants to Come for Collection

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C of O Applicants

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Those who applied for certificates of occupancy (C of O) in Oyo State have been urged to come forward for collection at Room 4, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.

This appeal was made by the Commissioner for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Mr Olayiwola Olusegun Emmanuel, on Friday.

The Commissioner disclosed that since he assumed office about a month ago, he has signed not less than 1,606 C of Os but only 491 have been collected.

He, therefore, appealed the 1,115 outstanding C of O applicants to come forward to pick them up as they have been approved by Governor Seyi Makinde and duly signed.

“The Governor Seyi Makinde led administration has been working hard to make sure he fulfils his promises to the good people of Oyo State.

“This is why measures are being put in place to make sure that everyone collects their title documents with ease and within a stipulated period,” the Commissioner stated.

Mr Emmanuel admitted that though the cabinet reshuffle that took place in the third quarter of 2021 caused a slight delay in the issuance of the certificates, all processed and duly signed certificates are ready for collection by the applicants.

“We, therefore, enjoin the applicants to visit our office at Room 4, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development and collect their Certificates of Occupancy.

“We also appeal to members of the public to respond timely to our officials when their attention is needed to avoid further delay in processing. We hereby apologize for any inconvenience this might have caused our applicants,” he added.

“All complaints should be made at our Customer Care office at Room 4, Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Agodi, Ibadan or call Customer Care on 0700 696 52637. You can also email us at lands@oyostate.gov.ng,” he concluded.

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Kaduna Announces Restoration of Telecommunications Services

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Kaduna Economy

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Kaduna State Government has announced the restoration of telecommunications services more than a month after it was shut down on the orders of the state security council.

This was disclosed by the state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Mr Samuel Aruwan on Friday.

He said the restoration of full services in the affected areas may unfold over a few days, as the service providers are mobilised to power their transmission systems accordingly.

Mr Aruwan noted that the state government regrets the inconveniences residents of the affected LGAs may have encountered as a result of the shutdown, and also commended the sacrifices made while the shutdown lasted.

Notwithstanding, the government reiterated that the other measures announced as part of the security containment orders remain in force.

These include the prohibition of motorcycles all over the state, the ban on weekly markets, transportation of cattle, and the prohibition of the sale of fuel in jerrycans in specified Local Government Areas.

The state government had put those measures in place as part of efforts to address the rising spate of insecurity not only in Kaduna but in neighbouring states in the North-West and North-Central regions.

Recall that in September 2021, the Kaduna Government had shut down telecommunication services in some local government areas of the state as part of critical measures towards ending banditry.

Speaking then, Mr Aruwan explained that the move was part of many steps taken to address the current security situation in Kaduna State and neighbouring states in the North-West and North-Central regions.

“The relevant federal agencies have today informed the Kaduna State Government that the processes for telecoms shutdown in parts of the state have commenced.

“As part of the steps to address the current security situation in Kaduna State and neighbouring states in the North-West and North-Central, Kaduna State State Government has held several meetings with security agencies to adopt critical measures towards crushing bandits in identified hideouts,” he had stated.

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Poor Leadership: Principal or Instrumental Explanation for Nigeria’s Underdevelopment?

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Poor Leadership

By Jerome-Mario Utomi

There is no gainsaying that Nigeria is plagued with development challenges such as widespread poverty, insecurity, corruption, the gross injustice and ethnic politics.

Also, evidence abounds that the nation is in dire need of attention/support from interventionist’s organisations (private and civil society organisations) to help unleash economic development,  promotes growth and structural change, with some measures of distributive equity, modernisation in social and cultural attitudes, a degree of political transformation and stability, an improvement in health and education so that population growth stabilizes, and an increase in urban living and employment.

What is yet to be uncovered is/are the principal and instrumental factors that set the stage for this unending national malady, as well as give it a boost to thrive unhindered in the country.

To many, corruption is the principal factor exacerbating the nation’s underdevelopment. It is the single reason Nigeria has remained underdeveloped. Corruption has eaten so deep into the fabric of the nation, so much so that it has become a threat to the very existence of the nation.

Talking about corruption is almost like wasting precious time on an issue that has come to stay and not in any hurry to leave. To some, the challenge is rooted in the ‘Federal Character Principle’ which was introduced into the 1979 Constitution, to among other responsibilities; promote peace, stability, sharing of power and resources amongst the states, has contrary to expectations failed to achieve the primed principle but, lowered education standards in the country, compromised standards and professionalism in the nation’s civil service by ignoring meritocracy.

The rest are on the one hand, particularly of the view that the existence of weak institutions daily undermined by strong figures, region and ‘political Maradonas’ breeds national mediocrity.

Others on the other hand blame the nation’s deformed Federal System which has not only made the centre more attractive with federating states stripped of valuable responsibilities/autonomy but made the nation stand in an inverted pyramid shape with more power concentrated at the top and the base not formidable enough making collapse inevitable if urgent and fundamental steps are not taken,

Definitely, this piece agrees with most of the reasons above being responsible for the situation/challenge in the country. However, I would like to add to what I have just observed above that the problem in the country would need to be looked at in a wider and, indeed, deeper context of the evolution and development in the wider human society particularly in Nigeria where corruption has held all square bound.

At this point, the question may be asked; what impact has leadership had on the development of the nation?  Are political leaders in Nigeria patrons or profiteers?

Again, looking at the multiple layers of formal and informal political leadership in post-colonial Nigeria where political leaders are the primary holders, controllers and distributors of power and resources, it elicits the question as to whether poor leadership is a principal or instrumental factor impeding the development of the country?

To add to the contest, talking about principal or instrumental factors impeding the development, Sylvester Enomah clarifies the concern in his book entitled ‘the Nature of Metaphysics’.

According to him, as the term designates it, instrumental cause means a thing or instrument that aids the agent or the principal cause in the process of causation and in the achieving of the effect.

In this case, the instrument is subordinate to the principal cause for direction, principles and initiative. The instrumental cause is handicapped in determining the nature and the character or the type of effect the principal cause intends.

Secondly, the effect is always attributed to the principal cause. The principal cause is intelligent and has the knowledge of what should be the effect of the cause; the instrumental cause may be unintelligent and may not know what may happen or be the effect of the cause. Even if the instrumental cause knows, it is not responsible for the effect of the causality as such.

The instrumental cause is not responsible on the condition that it is a non-living entity, and if it is a living thing, it is at the lower level of existence, for instance, lower animals like dogs. If the living entity is a man, the effect is not attributed to him, or he is not responsible on the condition that he is handicapped, i.e. he cannot hear, think, see, and smell, reason, mentally depraved, underage or under threat.

From the above explanation, it is deductible in my views that leadership challenge is the principal factor responsible for Nigeria’s underdevelopment while corruption, a system of government are but instrumental reasons.

Even Barrister Lee Kuen Yew, pioneer prime minister of Singapore shares similar views.

Let’s listen to him; my experience of developments in Asia has led me to conclude that we need good people to have a good government. However good the system of government, bad leaders will bring harm to their people.

On the other hand, I have seen several societies well-governed in spite of poor systems of government, because good, strong leaders were in charge. I have also seen so many of the over 80 constitutions drafted by Britain and France for their former colonies come to grief, and not because of flaws in the constitutions. It was simply that the preconditions for a democratic system of government did not exist.

Again, sometime in May 2016, the Prime Minister of Britain, David Cameron, described Nigeria and Afghanistan as “fantastically corrupt” in a con­versation with the Queen. Cameron had said, “We’ve got some leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain… Nigeria and Afghanistan, possibly the two most corrupt countries in the world.”

Closely related to the above is the reality that the managers of our nation’s economy continue to go against the provisions of the constitutions as an attempt to disengage governance from public sector control of the economy has only played into waiting hands of the profiteers of goods and services to the detriment of the Nigerian people.

While the nation continues to lie prostrate and diminish socially and economically with grinding poverty and starvation driving more and more men into the ranks of the beggars, whose desperate struggle for bread renders them insensible to all feelings of decency and self-respect, the privileged political few continue to flourish in obscene and splendour as they pillage and ravage the resources of our country at will.

Finally, the truth is that if nothing is done to alleviate this appealing situation, it will hopelessly confirm why the nation is stumbling.

Jerome-Mario Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374.

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