The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has apprehended an official of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, Mr. Akinyele Adetula, for trying to launder $1.4m (N218m).
The arrest came less than a month after the commission arrested a 24-year old man, Mr. Abubakar Sheriff, at the same airport with $7m (N1.1bn).
Sunday PUNCH learnt that the suspect was arrested at Murtala Mohammed Airport on Saturday.
According the Head of Operations, EFCC, Mr. Iliyasu Kwarbai, the suspect was able to pass through Nigeria Customs Service and National Drug Law Enforcement Agency security checks because he was wearing his identity card and therefore did not draw any suspicion.
He said, “The suspect is a FAAN security guard. He wore his tag and was thus able to move freely in the airport without drawing 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.”
The EFCC authorities said the suspect was given the money by one Mr. Ifeanyi Urama, a bureau de change operator who also doubles as clearing and forwarding agent.
Urama, it was learnt, was recently granted bail by the EFCC after he was arrested with $996,000 (N155m).
Urama was alleged to have given Adetula the money, which belonged to a yet-to-be-identified person and Adetula was to help the unknown person to get the money past security.
Adetula, who claims to have worked for FAAN for over five years, said he was promised N10,000 if he could successfully get past security.
The indigene of Ondo State said this was his first time of committing such a crime.
He said, “Ifeanyi called me in the morning and told me to help him to take the bag and gave me someone’s phone number and told me to call the person once I get to the area where the airplane would board.
“I didn’t know the exact amount, but I knew the money was much. I would have informed authorities of the amount of money I was carrying but I was carried away by the phone call I was receiving.”
Kwarbai told Sunday PUNCH that money launderers had begun to devise new means of beating security due to frequent arrests by the commission.
He said he was surprised that the suspect was able to pass the bag through the scanner without security agents raising the alarm — a move which he said implied that officials at the airport were beginning to connive with criminals.
He said the law stipulated that anyone attempting to travel with over $10,000 (N1.56m) cash must inform security agents at the airport and he/she must also be prepared to explain his/her source of livelihood.
He noted that within a period of three weeks, the commission had seized over $10.2m (N1.6bn) in Lagos alone.
“We appeal to airport officials and security agents to report cases of money laundering to the commission, as this is clearly economic sabotage,” he said.