The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Saturday, October 21, 2012, arrested an official of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Akinyele Adetule, at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, for being in possession of $1.4 million US Dollars about N218 million naira.
The arrest is on the heels of that of Abubakar Sheriff Tijjani, a bulk cash smuggler intercepted with $7,049.444, Seven million, Forty Nine Thousand, Four Hundred and Forty Four United States Dollars, at the same Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, on Thursday, 27 September, 2012. The Commission has seized over $10.2, N1.6bn, in Lagos alone in the last three months.
The arrest of Mr. Adetule confirmed the suspicion that even airport officials are part of the money laundering syndicate.
According to Mr. Iliyasu Kwarbai, Head of Operations EFCC, the suspect passed all security checks because he was wearing his FAAN identity card, but instead of boarding his flight, proceeded to make phone calls.
“The suspect is a FAAN security guard. He wore his tag and was thus able to move freely in the airport without drawing any suspicion. He was carrying a bag and it went through the scanner. The suspect passed through NDLEA, and Customs and he went to the waiting area; but he started making phone calls instead of proceeding to board his flight. We accosted him and noticed that his bag was heavy. When we searched him, we saw the large sum of money, which he said did not belong to him and that he was only trying to telephone the owner who never showed up”, Kwarbai said.
Adetula said he was given the money by one Mr. Ifeanyi Urama, a bureau de change operator who was recently granted bail by the EFCC after he was arrested with $996,000, about One Hundred and Fifty Five million naira ((N155m). The money allegedly belonged to a yet-to-be- identified person and Adetula was to help the unknown person get the money past security.
EFCC says it is surprised that the suspect was able to pass the bag through the scanner without security agents raising the alarm, a move which implies that officials at the airport were beginning to connive with criminals.
Investigations are therefore ongoing to unravel the complicity or otherwise of the airport officials in the passage of the bag containing the dollars through the various security checks and the identity of the principal, if any.