Another passenger arrested with $34,000 at Lagos airport
An attempt by a passenger to smuggle 23 wraps containing $34,000 has been foiled by officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
The suspect, Ozoh Ikenna, was arrested yesterday at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos on his way to Brazil.
The dollars were detected during screening of passengers on the Etihad Airways flight to Abu Dhabi.
The money was packed in wraps similar to narcotics and concealed in his shorts.
The NDLEA Airport Commander, Ahmadu Garba, said the arrest was facilitated by the scanning machine.
“The wraps of dollars found on Ozoh Ikenna were detected with the aid of scanning machine. We also conducted a follow-up operation where one Ogbo Emmanuel who gave Ozoh $34,000 was arrested,” Garba stated.
Investigation conducted by the Assets and Financial Investigation Directorate headed by Mrs Victoria Egbase revealed that the suspects were involved in the laundering of a substantial amount of money which was illicit drug proceeds.
Egbase said:”We were able to trace over N226,000,000 to one bank account, belonging to the second suspect, Ogbo Emmanuel. The account name is Eternal God International Limited”.
Ogbo Emmanuel hails from Umunya in the Oyi Local Government Area of Anambra State. After his primary and secondary education, he travelled to Onitsha to work as an automobile parts businessman.
In 1996, he relocated to Lagos. In 2005, he left Nigeria for Gambia in search of greener pastures. While in Gambia, he travelled to Germany twice to purchase fairly used electronic equipment.
Ogbo came back to Lagos in 2008 and had been selling cosmetic products at the Trade Fair Complex, Lagos.
Ozoh, in his statement, said: “I live in Brazil since 2008. I was paid to smuggle the $34,000 to Brazil. They promised to pay me five per cent. I agreed to smuggle the money to alleviate my financial hardship. I could not swallow the wraps, so I decided to hide them in my shorts.”
Investigation also revealed that suspected drug proceeds were regularly deposited in the said bank account by members of an international drug cell that smuggles cocaine from South America to West Africa.
Findings also revealed that the cosmetic business of Ogbo Emmanuel at the Trade Fair Complex, Lagos was a mere cover-up as his sales record did not justify the large flow of money into his bank account. A Hyundai Tucson Jeep was seized as an exhibit during the raid operation.
Chairman/Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Ahmadu Giade, said that the agency is strategically targeting criminal wealth.
“Asset forfeiture is one of the effective ways of responding to organised crime threats. We are working assiduously to trace and confiscate criminal wealth of drug syndicates. Strategic efforts are ongoing to prevent the entry of drug proceeds into legitimate economy and criminal financing,” Giade stated.
The NDLEA boss assured members of the public that in view of the overwhelming evidence linking the money to narcotics, the agency will diligently prosecute the suspects.