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Suspects in snake smuggling saga escape detention

Suspects in snake smuggling saga escape detention

- Two persons arrested for smuggling poisonous snakes into the country have escaped

- The minister of state for environment expressed disappointment at the news

- He said the snakes could wipe out the country's fauna

Julius Novigana and Victor Agbor who were arrested by security operatives for allegedly smuggling imported snakes have disappeared from custody.

The Punch reports that the two suspects were handed over to officials of the Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Services (NAQS) after they were apprehended by the customs.

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Mrs. Nanbyen Burromvyat who is the Customs Area Comptroller in charge of Calabar Free Trade Zone, Cross River and Akwa Ibom Commands handed over the suspects to NAQS on July 26 before they disappeared.

Mr. Sunday Ukut confirmed to Ibrahim Jubril who is the minister of state for environment that the two suspects had fled.

Suspects in snake smuggling saga escape detention

The two suspects who reportedly fled from detention. Credit: The Punch

“Just two persons were brought here and we have no clue where they have disappeared to,” he said.

The minister expressed dismay at the news and said the suspects would have been able to provide information on where they got the reptiles from and where they were taking them to.

“But the agency has messed up the vigilance and good intentions of the Customs service officers who intercepted the consignment,” he added.

The minister handed over the reptiles to representatives from the University of Uyo and noted that the importers wanted to use Nigeria as a transit point to smuggle the animals to Rotterdam in the Netherlands and Luxemburg.

He said: “The importers thought they could use the Nigerian water channel or airports to smuggle these reptiles because they considered our airport and water channel as easy transit points for their nefarious activities, but thanks to the Customs for their vigilance; they intercepted the items.

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He said if not properly handled, the snakes could wipe out the country’s fauna which was why they were handed over to the university

He said: “We must learn to have the interest of the environment at heart in all our activities. There are many things that these reptiles can do that are both destructive and beneficial to our habitat. So, we must always learn to ensure that we are vigilant at all times to ensure that nobody or organisation imports things that can negatively impact on our environment.”

Meanwhile, the Rivers state police command reacted to the escape from police detention of Ifeanyi Dike, the suspected ritual killer who defiled and murdered 8-year-old Victory Chikamso.

According to reports, in a chat with newsmen, Zaki Ahmed, the State Commissioner of Police, described the incident as an embarrassment to the Force.

Ahmed disclosed that Dike’s escape was due to individual negligence.

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