By UCHE USIM
A China-bound passenger is currently telling the Nigeria Customs Service, Murtala Muhammed Airport Command how he came about the undeclared $137,435 found on him at the Lagos Airport. According to the Customs officials, the passenger identified as Mr Chukwuonu Nnaemeka John was travelling to China with the money hidden in textbooks when he was arrested.
The officials added that the books were published in Nigeria but the suspect was exporting them to China with the purpose of re-importing, a development they said was clearly a copyright offence. Addressing reporters at the Customs Command Office at the cargo wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, the Customs Area Comptroller , Eporwei Charles Edike explained that the passenger cunningly declared only $70,000 to beat airport checks.
However, luck ran out on him when officials carried out search on the textbooks and shockingly discovered that $67, 437 was not declared. Edike further explained that the area command had put in place measures to hand over the passenger to officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for further investigation. He said it had become imperative for Customs at the airport to comply with government’s regulations as it affects foreign exchange in line with the Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) CAP C 45 LFN 2004 as amended.
The Customs boss explained that since September 24, 2012 when the office received a letter from the EFCC, it had thereafter put in place a collaborative working arrangement with the command currency declaration officers at the international airport. He explained that the collaborative efforts had been paying off with many passengers being restrained from travelling and had been handed over to the EFCC. Giving a graphic detail of how travellers with undeclared foreign currency have been arrested, he said: “On September 27, 2012, passengers Messrs Hassan Ganiyat Oloruntoyin (Mrs) and Oteh Prince Eminike were refused boarding at the currency declaration desk when they were unable to produce evidence of purchase of $270,00 and $1,040,000, respectively.
They were subsequently handed over to the EFCC. Also, on September ,2012, one Sheriff Abubakar Tijani was found with $4.5 million. He was also handed over to the EFCC, Lagos Liaison office, who are working in tandem with the currency seat officer at the Lagos international Airport for further necessary action .” Continuing, Edike said: “Mr Igweadiani John Chinedu was arrested on October 3, 2012 with $283,000, due to his failure to satisfactorily explain the source of the money, ownership and purpose of fund.
On October 20, 2012 at the “ D” wing section of the Nigeria Customs Service Currency Screening Desk, our officer of the currency seat accosted a Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria official, Mr Adetula A. A with a bag containing $1.4 million which was not declared. On October 26, 2012, one Mr Osemwegie Billy was found with $599, 200. Only on November 7, 2012, Mr Chukwuonu Nnaemeka John was arrested with $137,435.
He declared the sum of $70,000. Investigations revealed that he was travelling to China with red textbooks published in Nigeria with the purpose of reprinting in China and re-importing them back to Nigeria which is a copyright offence,” he stated.