The Muritala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has intercepted $8.065 million cash from suspected money launderers.
The Federal Operations Unit (FOU) zone A also impounded 147 sacks of pangolin scales weighing 9,504.1kg and valued at N10.264 billion at an abandoned warehouse in Isheri Estate.
However, Daily Sun learnt that the currency was intercepted in a bus belonging to the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) at the airport tarmac, which was ready to be smuggled into an aircraft.
While showcasing the seizures yesterday at a press briefing in Lagos, the Comptroller General of the Service, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), said that the consignment packed in a coaster bus was laoded in six big Bagco bags, adding that one suspect, the driver of the bus, Chimezie Okonkwo, was arrested.
According to him, after the preliminary investigations, the money would be handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for further investigations to reveal the real owners of the money.
Speaking on the pangolin scales, Ali said the seizure would attract World Customs Organisation (WTO).recommendation.
He, therefore, commended the FOU Zone A for making such huge seizure of the pangolin scales.
According to him, Nigeria is a signatory to Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), which categorises this species under absolute prohibition. “Therefore, its importation or trade is illegal globally”, the Customs boss added.
On other seizures, he explained that 3,067 bags of contraband foreign rice (50kg), 3,722 jerry cans of 25 litres and 1040 of 4.73 litres of vegetable oil, 14 units of exotic vehicles, 575 pieces of used tyres, among others, were seized with a Duty Payment Value (DPV) of N303.244 million, making a cumulative duty paid value of N10.567 billion within the month under review.
While reacting to the development, the spokesperson of the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company plc (NACHO), Tayo Ajakaye, said:
“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.”
However, he said NAHCO does not condone irresponsible and criminal behaviour, adding that 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.