NIGERIAN Customs Service (NCS), today announced that its men at the International wing of the Murtala Mohammed Airport intercepted and seized $8.06m Dollars (₦2.9billion) wrapped and concealed inside a bus at the Tarmac section of the airport, preparing to be smuggled out of the country without proper declaration.
Disclosing this to newsmen in Lagos, the Comptroller General of NCS, Hameed Alli said the intercepted money $8,065,612m at the airport were in 20 sealed wraps.
NCS boss giving details said the consignment which was packed in a coaster bus was intercepted at about 1200hrs on January 16, 2020 at the E- Wing of the tarmac of the Lagos Airport.
The next day, Saturday, January 18, 2020, Ali said the service took an inventory of the consignment in the presence of the Directorate of State Security, Customs intelligence unit, anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing unit, customs police and the suspect where the sum was confirmed.
He said that the command was able to intercept the sum through credible information gathered on the day the consignment was supposed to be moved out of the country.
He explained further that the service was conducting investigation into the consignment, the real owners and cohorts in the attempted smuggling, adding that after thorough investigation, the fund and the arrested suspect would be handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for further interrogation.
He explained that names were written on each wrap of money, which were in $100 denomination.
He however noted that it was not a crime to ferry money out of the country, but noted any amount of money in excess of $10,000 must be declared to customs by the owners.
He said: “Currently, the value of the threshold in Nigeria is the equivalent of $10,000 and above. Therefore, all travellers in and out of Nigeria, must declare any physical cash in excess of this threshold of $10,000 or equivalent of other currencies or monetary instruments.
“The question is often asked, why do customs or any agency of government need to know if a private person or company is taking out monies for their personal business out of the country. It is for the reason that illegal criminal activities like international terrorism, drug smuggling, arms proliferation are financed by illicit cash movements outside the recognized financial systems.
“Proceeds from other criminal activities like corrupt enrichments from public treasury are similarly siphoned out of the country in cash. To enforce compliance with the monitoring of cross border cash movement, registers are maintained all approved points of entry and exit, where voluntary declarations are maintained. The declaration are then followed up by EFCC to ascertain any possible link between the cash movers and criminal networks.”
Meanwhile in a statement released by NAHCO later, the handling company said it does not condone any form of criminal act.
The statement from NAHCO read,” The attention of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company plc (nahco aviance) has been brought to a press conference earlier today by the Comptroller – General of the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) Col. Hammed Alli (rtd) to the effect that a vehicle belonging to NAHCO was intercepted with some cash in foreign currencies as it conveyed the money to an aircraft at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos.
“We wish to state unequivocally that NAHCO as an organization has no connection whatsoever with this alleged act. The Company has initiated contact with the Nigerian Customs Service’ hierarchy to provide it with details of this incident.
“As a responsible corporate organisation, NAHCO will cooperate with all regulators, agencies and other stakeholders in not only finding out the truth about this unfortunate incident, but also rooting out malpractices in the sector.
“The Nigerian Aviation Handling Company does not condone irresponsible and criminal behaviour. The Company takes seriously the trust of its esteemed clients, partners and other stakeholders, both local and international, and will do everything to protect that trust,” the statement read.