The Nigeria Customs Service disclosed on Tuesday that it intercepted $8.06 million at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos from a passenger. The disclosure was made by the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) during a media briefing held in Lagos.
The dollars loaded in six big `bagco’ bags was reportedly packed in a bus belonging to the Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) driven by the bus driver, Chimezie Okonkwo.
While speaking on the matter, Ali said that Okonkwo had been taken into custody and that travelling across borders with any amount above the approved threshold of $10,000 was illegal.
“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 has led to developments in the international financial system that guarantee safe, secured and fast cross border platforms for payment of goods and services.
“While 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 a declaration of such movement once the value is above the approved threshold,” Ali said.
NAHCO’s response: NAHCO stated in a statement that there was no connection whatsoever between the company and the $8 million intercepted at the airport. The company said it would cooperate with relevant agencies and stakeholders in revealing the truth and eradicating malpractice in its operations.
“We wish to state unequivocally that NAHCO as an organization has no connection whatsoever with this alleged act. The Company has initiated contact with the Nigerian Customs Service’ hierarchy to provide it with details of this incident.
“As a responsible corporate organisation, NAHCO will cooperate with all regulators, agencies and other stakeholders in not only finding out the truth about this unfortunate incident but also rooting out malpractices in the sector.
“The Nigerian Aviation Handling Company does not condone irresponsible and criminal behaviour. The Company takes seriously the trust of its esteemed clients, partners and other stakeholders, both local and international, and will do everything to protect that trust,” NAHCO stated.