Customs Impounds $8.1 Million At Lagos Airport

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The officials of the Nigeria Customs Service attached to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, have impounded the sum of $8,065,612m about to be illegally ferried out of the country through one of the international airlines.

The service said that the sum was discovered in 20 wraps inside a coaster bus at the tarmac of the airport on January 16, 2020 at the E-Wing of the airport.

Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col Hameed Ali (retd), said that the money laundering was discovered through intelligence put in place by the command at the airport.

Ali told journalists at the Federal Operating Unit of Customs on Tuesday that the lump sum was loaded in six bags with one suspect arrested in connection with it.

He emphasised that the consignment was intercepted at about 1200hrs on January 16, 2020, while the next day, 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 suspect where the sum was confirmed.

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 for further interrogation.

He explained that names were written on each wrap of the 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 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 recognised 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.

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