The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) command at the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport has arrested two suspects in connection with alleged smuggling of €325,640, $30,000 (about N175 million) from Greece and Austria into the country.
NDLEA commander at the airport, Mr. Ahmadu Garba said one of the suspects Edos Nicholas was found with 279,190 Euros while the other, Hallowell Prince Lovely was caught with €46,450 and $30,000.
He said the suspects were arrested during the inward screening of passengers on a Turkish airline flight adding that they concealed the money inside envelopes and shoes.
“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 and 30,000 dollars were also apprehended,” said Garba.
He said preliminary investigation revealed that both suspects are frequent travellers who are the target of International Drug Trafficking Organisations.
He said the Edo State-born Nicholas who claimed to be working in a bakery in Austria had confessed that the money found on him was given by an unnamed friend.
“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,” Garba quoted Nicholas as saying
Similarly, he said Hallowell who also hails from Edo State claimed that the money found on him was meant for some people 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,” Garba quoted the suspect as saying.
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.
Meanwhile, the chairman and chief executive officer of 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. “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,” said Abdallah.