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Customs intercepts $8m cash, arrests airport staff

Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd), Comptroller-General of NCS (Centre) announcing the cash interception in Lagos

* NAHCO denies involvement in cash movement

Isola Moses

Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd), Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Tuesday, February 4, disclosed that the Customs Command at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Ikeja, Lagos, had intercepted US$8.06million at the airport.

Agency report said Ali, at a media briefing, disclosed that the Dollars loaded in six big ‘Bagco’ bags were packed in a coaster bus belonging to the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) and was intercepted at the airport tarmac.

Chimezie Okonkwo, a suspect, who was the driver of the bus, was arrested and taken into custody with the intercepted consignment, he said.

According to the Comptroller-General, his visit today is connected to one of the critical roles Customs plays as an agency that acts as the watchdog of national economic security.

“We all know that countries of the world prosper through international trade.

“The era of globalisation has brought about an explosion in the exchange of goods and services across our borders.

“Its complexities and time sensitiveness have led to developments in the international financial system that guarantees safe, secure and fast cross border platforms for payment of goods and services,” Ali observed.

He further stated though the provisions are made for various forms of international electronic transfers, exceptions are made for those who prefer to travel across borders with cash and other monetary instruments.

“When this option is used, those who carry physical cash across the borders are obliged by law to make declaration of such movement once the value is above the approved threshold,” he said.

He pointed that currently, the value of the threshold in Nigeria was the equivalent of 10,000 Dollars and above.

Ali, therefore, urged all travelers in and out of Nigeria that they “must declare any physical cash in excess of this threshold of 10,000 Dollars or equivalent of other currencies or monetary instruments.

It is for the reason, he added, that illegal criminal activities, such as international terrorism, drug smuggling and arms proliferation are financed by illicit cash movements outside the recognised financial systems.

Proceeds from other criminal activities like corrupt enrichments from public treasury are similarly siphoned out of the country in cash, he said.

However, a latest report indicates that NAHCO, in an official reaction to the development, has denied any involvement in the cash movement at the airport.

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