Officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have recovered N175 million from two suspects. According to the NDLEA, the money, €325,640, as well as $30,000, approximately N175 million, was being smuggled from Greece and Austria.
The NDLEA spokesman, Mitchel Ofoyeju, said the money, concealed inside envelopes and shoes, was seized at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Lagos during the inward screening of passengers on a Turkish airline flight. He said: “Two suspects have been arrested in connection with the smuggled currencies.”
One of the suspects, Edos Nicholas, was found in possession of 279,190 euros. The second suspect, Hallowell Lovely, was in possession of 46,450 euros and $30,000. Nicholas, who claimed to be a worker in a bakery in Austria, said that the money found on him was given to him.
He said: “The money does not belong to me. The money was given to me by different people in Europe to give to their relatives. I have been living in Vienna, Austria for over 15 years.” Lovely also said that the money found on him, belonged to people.
He said he was asked to deliver the money to different 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,” the suspect said.
The NDLEA Commander at the Lagos airport, Ahmadu Garba, said the money was found during routine search of passengers. He said: “During the inward screening of passengers on a Turkish flight, we discovered €325,640 and $30,000.
Two suspected passengers, Edos Nicholas found in possession of 279,190 euros and Hallowell Prince Lovely, found in possession of 46,450 euros and $30,000 were also apprehended.” The Chairman of the NDLEA, Col. Muhammad Abdallah (rtd.) has directed the Director of Assets and Financial Investigation of the agency, Mrs. Victoria Egbase, to take over the investigation.
He 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.” Ofoyeju said preliminary investigation revealed that both suspects were frequent travellers usually the targets of international drug trafficking organisations. He added: “Besides, their sources of income must be verified.”