Mrs. Nanbyen Burromvyat, Nigeria Customs Area Comptroller in charge of Calabar Free Trade Zone, Cross River and Akwa Ibom command as at yesterday, said, the command intercepted three batches of goods destined for or to be delivered to someone containing 140 species of snakes imported into Nigeria.
Also, the command intercepted 600 animals, made up of geckos, millipedes, hairy frogs, and spiders, in the containers.
The items were said to have been imported from Cameroon and were intercepted by officers on July 24, 2017, on arrival at the NIWA jetty, with a market value of N6.9 million.
Burromvyat said the consignments, which were Lagos-bound, were prohibited items, under Schedule 3 of the Revised Import Prohibition List (Trade) in the Common External Tariff.
A list of the items contained in the packaging list had snakes such as Atheris squamigera, Bitis gobanica, Dasypeltis ssp, Boiga pulverinata, among others, while the geckos were Hemidactylus frenatus and Hemidactylus fasciatus.
Though the containers were not opened for fear of escape, Burromvyat handed over the items and the two suspects to authorities of the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services for investigation.
She said: “These containers have animals of different sizes. They were brought in on July 24, 2017, through this Calabar waterway. The consignment was spotted by our vigilant officers and they contain live animals.
There is no provision for the permit to bring them in. We are seizing them and handing the containers over to the Nigerian Quarantine Services for further necessary action.
I do not know what they want to do with it, but I think it will be dangerous for us because it contains snake, spiders, geckos and other creatures. We have enough snakes around Nigeria already and it will be suspicious importing this. I do not know what to think because I do not know what they can be used for.
Speaking shortly after receiving the containers, the officer in charge of the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services in Cross River State, Mr. Sunday Ukut, said the animals would be properly scrutinized after which they might be destroyed.
Appreciating the efforts of officers that intercepted the animals, he said the office would conduct further investigations.
The arrested agent who brought in the consignment from Cameroon, Mr. Julius Novigana, said the consignment was given to him by a friend to deliver to someone in Lagos, claiming that he did not know what was in the three containers.
According to him, his friend only asked him to deliver the consignment to an unidentified person in Lagos.
Victor Agbor, captain of the vessel that brought the consignment, also a Cameroonian, said he did not spot the containers when he was about leaving his country, adding: “The name of my vessel is MV Flesh and we bring in passengers and general cargo from Cameroon to Nigeria.
Before I left there, I never saw this cargo” he claimed.