By CHIKA CHIMEZIE
Officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have intercepted three hundred and twenty-five thousand, six hundred and forty euros (€325,640) as well as thirty thousand dollars ($30,000), about 175 million naira being smuggled from Greece and Austria.
According to a statement sent to DAYLIGHT.NG by the agency’s spokesman, Mr. Ofoyeju Mitchell, the suspected laundered money concealed inside envelopes and shoes were seized at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Lagos during the inward screening of passengers on a Turkish airline flight. Two suspects have been arrested in connection with the smuggled currencies.
NDLEA commander at the Lagos airport, Ahmadu Garba said that the money was found during routine search of passengers. “During the inward screening of passengers on a Turkish flight, we discovered €325,640 euros and 30,000 dollars. Two suspected passengers, Edos Nicholas found in possession of 279,190 euros and Hallowell Prince Lovely, found in possession of €46,450 euros and 30,000 dollars were also apprehended” Ahmadu stated.
Chairman/Chief Executive of the NDLEA Col. Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah (retd.) has directed the director of Assets and Financial Investigation of the Agency, Mrs Victoria Egbase to take over the investigation. According to Abdallah, “this is a suspected case of money laundering. Criminal groups seek to conceal the origin of illegally obtained money. It is pertinent therefore for us to trace the origin of the money and prevent the introduction of criminal funds into the economy. Consequently, I have directed that the case be meticulously investigated”.
Preliminary investigation revealed that both suspects are frequent travellers who are the target of International Drug Trafficking Organisations. Besides, their sources of income must be verified. Edos Nicholas who claimed to be working in a bakery in Austria said that the money found on him was given to him. “The money does not belong to me. I was given by different people in Europe to give to their relatives. I have been living in Vienna Austria for over fifteen years”. he hails from Edo State.
The second suspect, Hallowell Prince who also hails from Edo State claimed that the money found on him belongs to people and that he was asked to deliver same to the recipients in Nigeria. “I live in Athens and I work in an African shop. I have lived there for twelve years. The money belongs to many people and some of them are my friends” he stated.
Abdallah said that the cases shall be properly investigated and necessary action taken as laundered funds could be used to finance terrorism and distort the economy among others.