10th January, 2014
Simon Ateba/Aviation correspondent
A routine search by Nigeria’s anti-narcotics agents for smuggled drugs at the international airport in Lagos, yielded another discovery: $240,000, possibly counterfeit cash concealed in dictionaries, property of a Congolese woman, bound for Kinshasa.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), which ordinarily targets drug traffickers, seized the currency and the 39-year-old woman, identified as Mfundu Angela.
She claims to be a fashion designer.
Officers at Lagos International Airport pulled over the woman after her plastic bag containing five dictionaries raised suspicions.
A search of the five reference books uncovered 24 brown envelopes, each containing $10,000 in $100 bills, the NDLEA said in an emailed statement. It added that the currency was suspected to be fake.
Angela attempted to export the suspected fake dollars to Congo-Kinshasa through Cargolux airline, said Mitchell Ofoyeju, NDLEA Head of Public Affairs.
NDLEA commander at the Lagos Airport, Hamza Umar, was quoted as saying that the seizure was made following reasonable suspicion on the consignment.
“The suspect, who hails from the Democratic Republic of Congo brought a sewing machine and a bag containing clothes and five dictionaries for export to Congo. There was high suspicion on the consignment and in the process of search, the dictionaries were found to contain twenty-four (24) envelopes containing ten thousand dollars ($10,000) each,” Umar was quoted as saying.
The suspect, a divorcee and mother of two told NDLEA that the dollars were given to her by her boyfriend.
Chairman of the NDLEA, Ahmadu Giade was quoted as describing the discovery as a big boost for airport and border security in the country.
“This remarkable seizure is a big boost for our airport and border security. It is an indication that criminal groups are fast becoming inept based on our superior search operations,” Giade was quoted as saying.
NDLEA said at the end of preliminary investigation, the suspect will be transferred to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for further investigation and legal action.
Nigeria’s currency rules restrict the export of foreign currencies over $5,000. Any amount over that has to be declared upon departure.
Non-residents can export currency up to the amount imported and declared upon arrival.