Customs Area Controller, Seme Command, Comptroller Timi Bomodi officially hands over the seized endangered species birds to Comptroller Sanusi Magashi of Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service NAQS at Seme Customs Command, Monday. On the left is Command Image-Maker, Superintendent of Customs, Abdullahi Hussaini.

The Seme Border Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has smashed a criminal cross-border syndicate operating along the Nigeria-Abidjan trade corridor that specialises in illicit trade in endangered species. A total of 60 parrots comprising the grey and African green parrots and a hawk were seized in the exercise while two suspects have been arrested.

The seized hawk

Briefing newsmen at the Seme-Krake Joint Border Post, Monday, Customs Area Controller of the command, Comptroller Timi Bomodi, disclosed that following credible intelligence, the endangered species animals, which were concealed in a luxury bus travelling from Kaduna to the Republic of Benin were intercepted at seized.

Details of the seizure include 51 live Green Parrots, five live African Grey Parrots, five dead Green Parrots, one dead African Grey Parrot, and one live Hawk; all contained in iron nets and a paper box. All the seizures have a duty paid value DPV of N6.9million.

It is however believed that the value could be five times higher in the international market, since they are highly valued in the developed world. A total of six of the birds had died possibly due to the trauma of transporting them in such condition, even as the two suspects are currently being interrogated.

It was gathered that the operation took place at the Gbaji checkpoint on the ever-busy Badagry-Seme Expressway at about 4am (local time) on September 25, 2023.

Comptroller Bomodi, who officially handed over the seized items to the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Services NAQS said: “I am extremely delighted to welcome you all to the Nigeria Customs Service, Seme Area Command. The seat of Seme-Krake Joint Border Post, the foremost frontier for trade in West and Central Africa and one of the busiest boundary lines in Africa to brief you on the seizure of live African Parrot and other birds.

“On the 25th of September, 2023 at about 0400hrs, officers and men of the Nigeria Customs Service, Seme Area Command while on patrol along Seme – Badagry Expressway, acting on credible intelligence intercepted a luxurious bus enroute from Kaduna to Benin Republic and Upon search of the bus, these endangered species of animals were discovered.

“We totally condemn this criminal act by some members of the society considering that the trade in endangered wildlife contravenes the Convention on International Trade On Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which is an International Agreement between Governments of which Nigeria is a signatory.

“For us at the Seme Command, our resolve to curb not only the illicit trade in endangered species but all other forms of smuggling is unshaken and we warn perpetrators of this illegal trade to stay out of the Lagos – Abidjan corridor or they will continue to incur heavy losses if they so insist.”

The Controller also noted that the depleting of these animals was not good for the country’s ecosystem, noting that the world is today faced with the challenge of climate change and global warming possible due to the activities of a few persons, warning that officers and men of the command would remain red alert to nab such enemies of the environments.

He also indicated that though the command has handed over the birds to the NAQS in line with the inter-agency synergy of the service, they would most likely be returned to the National Park so that they would survive to forestall going into extinction, which is not good for the environment.

Meanwhile, Controller of the NAQS at the Seme Border, Comptroller Sanusi Magashi, who received the birds on behalf of the service, thanked the Seme Customs Area Command for always being alert and assured that the synergy that exists between the two sister agencies would always deepen in national interest.