Officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have intercepted 325,640 Euros and $30,000 (About N175m) in cash about to be smuggled into the country from Greece and Austria.
The cash, concealed inside envelopes and shoes, was seized at the Murtalla Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos during the screening of passengers on a Turkish Airline flight.Two suspects were arrested.
NDLEA commander at the Lagos airport, Ahmadu Garba said Edos Nicholas was found in possession of 279,190 euros and Hallowell Prince Lovely was found in possession of €46,450 euros and 30,000 dollars.
Chairman and Chief Executive of the NDLEA Col. Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah (retd.) directed the Director of Assets and Financial Investigation of the Agency, Mrs Victoria Egbase, to take over the investigation.
Abdallah said: “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 were frequent travellers who are the target of International Drug Trafficking Organisations.
It was learnt that Edos, who claimed to be working in a bakery in Austria said the money was given to him. “The money does not belong to me. It was given by different people in Europe to give to their relatives. I have been living in Vienna, Austria for over 15 years.”
Hallowell reportedly claimed that the money belonged 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 12 years. The money belongs to many people and some of them are my friends” he stated.