The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) seized €325,640 and $30,000, totaling about N175 million, being smuggled into Nigeria from Greece and Austria. Two suspects identified as Edos Nicholas and Hallowell Prince Lovely,, both from Edo State have been arrested in connection with the smuggled currencies.
According to a statement by the spokesman, Mr Mitchell Ofoyeju, the suspects concealed the money inside envelopes and shoes, which were seized at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos during the inward screening of passengers on a Turkish Airline flight.
Confirming the seizures, the NDLEA Commander at the Lagos airport, Ahmadu Garba, said that the money was found during a routine search of passengers.
“During the inward screening of passengers on a Turkish flight, we discovered €325,640 and $30,000. Two suspects, Edos Nicholas, found in possession of €279,190, and Hallowell Prince Lovely, found in possession of €46,450 and $30,000, were also apprehended,” Mr. Ahmadu stated.
Chief Executive of the NDLEA, Col. Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah has directed the Director of Assets and Financial Investigation of the Agency, Mrs. Victoria Egbase, to take over the investigation.
Abdallah explained that criminal groups seek to conceal the origin of illegally obtained money, noting that it was pertinent for the agency to trace the origin of the money and prevent the introduction of criminal funds into the economy. The statement hinted that preliminary investigation so far revealed that both suspects are frequent travelers who are the target of international drug trafficking organizations, stressing that their sources of income must be verified.
Edos Nicholas claimed to be working in a bakery in Austria, but confessed that people in Austria gave him the money that the NDLEA seized.
“The money does not belong to me. I was given it by different people in Europe to give to their relatives. I have been living in Vienna, Austria for over fifteen years,” said Nicholas.
The second suspect, Hallowell Prince Lovely claimed that the money found on him belongs to other people and that he was asked to deliver it to the recipients in Nigeria.
“I live in Athens and I work in an African shop. I have lived there for twelve years. The money belongs to many people and some of them are my friends,” he said.