Joint operation with NCS leads to arrest of fugitive suspected of involvement in major wildlife seizure of January 2021

In a joint intelligence-led operation with the Wildlife Justice Commission, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Special Wildlife Office and the Enforcement Team has arrested Mr Felix Maiva on 28 September. Mr Maiva was arrested in connection with the January 2021 seizure of illegal wildlife products from Apapa Port, Nigeria, which was bound for Haiphong, Vietnam.

Maiva’s arrest is the result of intense investigation and surveillance that followed the discovery of a container found to contain 4,752 kg of elephant ivory, 5,329 kg of pangolin scales, 5 kg of rhinoceros horns, and lion skeletons.

The arrested individual is suspected of involvement in a well-known transnational criminal network operating in West Africa. His apprehension is part of a series of arrests that have severely disrupted this network. 

“The Wildlife Justice Commission wishes to congratulate the NCS for their rapid response resulting in this outstanding outcome against a well-established transnational organised crime network. We remain committed to supporting the Nigeria Customs Service in further dismantling this criminal network.”

Olivia Swaak-Goldman, Executive Director of the Wildlife Justice Commission

In June 2023 the Federal High Court in Lagos convicted another member of this organised crime group, Felix OLAME, a clearing agent for the Apapa seizure.

Since July 2021, the ongoing partnership between the NCS and the Wildlife Justice Commission has resulted in the arrest of 22 suspects and seizure of over 9 tonnes of pangolin scales and over 1 tonne of ivory. This successful partnership enabled the disruption of the criminal networks trafficking ivory and pangolin scales in Nigeria, with trafficking reaching its lowest level in five years. It also led to the displacement of ivory and pangolin scales trafficking from Nigeria to other countries.