The Federal High Court in Lagos has sentenced a Cameroonian, Fofou Dadjo Evariste, and a Nigerian, Babangida Mahmoud, to two years imprisonment for unlawful possession of pangolin scales.
Justice Yelim Bogoro sentenced the convicts after they pleaded guilty to the amended charge filed against them by the Nigerian Customs Service.
The convicts were arraigned alongside one Olamilekan Adenekan on five counts which bordered on conspiracy, unlawful possession, trading, warehousing of pangolin scales, and perverting the course of justice, reports the Punch Newspaper.
Adenekan was arraigned on charges of conspiracy, unlawful possession, trading in the pangolin scales, and unlawful assembly, while the convicts were arraigned on conspiracy and perverting the course of justice.
Precisely, Mahmoud was charged with conspiracy, while the Cameroonian was charged with perverting the course of justice, by taking the photographs of undercover personnel of the Nigeria Customs Service, who searched for the Pangolin scales which were kept in his warehouse.
The prosecutor, Mr Michael Osong, told the court that the convicts and Adenekan committed the offences between 2018 and 2022, at the No12 ljora Causeway, area of Lagos State.
According to Osong, the offences committed contravened Section 516, 3, 4, 20, 11 (b) and 166 of the Criminal Code Act, Cap C38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
Justice Bogoro in her judgment sentenced the two convicts to one year each.
The Judge however ordered the first convict, Mahmoud, to pay the sum of N100,000, while the second convict, the Cameroonian, Evariste, was ordered to pay the sum of N300,000, as a fine option to the sentence.
Pangolins are considered the most trafficked mammals globally, with tens of thousands poached annually. They are targeted for their scales used in traditional Chinese medicine and their meat, considered a delicacy among some wealthy individuals in China and Vietnam.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest democracy, has intensified efforts to combat pangolin trafficking. Recently, authorities in Abuja burned four tonnes of seized pangolin scales worth $1.4 million.
Despite there being eight pangolin species, all are experiencing population decline due to illegal trade, prompting conservationists to urge governments to take more action.