The MMIA Command, Lagos, of the Nigeria Customs Service yesterday arrested a passenger with $1.1 million at the international wing of the Lagos Airport.
The passenger, identified as Professor Ofoegbu Charles Ononuju, allegedly claimed to be the director of AZ Petroleum. The professor was travelling with a passport with registration number A04008969.
According to the customs area comptroller, Mr. Eporwei Charles Edike, the passenger declared the currency both on forms CDF1A and CDF1B, but claimed he was travelling with Kenya Airways flight number QR542 to Kenya to solve a dispute with a Kenya community over oil blocks .
Edike said the passenger and the currency had been handed over to officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for further investigation.
He explained that, in 2012, the Nigeria Customs Service, MMIA Command, intercepted over $12.1 million from 14 persons who tried to take money out of the country in contravention of extant regulations.
He said the relevant government agency has been collaborating with Customs to ensure that the law takes its course on the matter, adding that the rise in the incidence of arrests of passengers trying to smuggle foreign currency is a fallout of the inter-agency collaboration.
Edike said the Airport customs command raked in over N35 billion as revenue in 2012, a marked improvement over that of 2011, which was N34 billion.
He attributed the increase in revenue to blockage of leakages and cooperation by forwarding and clearing agents on compliance measures introduced by Customs to enhance revenue.
He said the revenue for 2012 could have been more, if not for the one month disruption in operations at Lagos airport which affected cargo and some of the ground-handling companies. He said revenue projection for 2013 could not be ascertained until the headquarters in Abuja communicated to the command.
Meanwhile, motorists plying the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Road yesterday evening experienced heavy traffic jam as policemen embarked on thorough search of motorists. They were looking for kidnappers who allegedly abducted a young woman at the Mafoluku area of Lagos State.
It was gathered revealed that the woman, who was simply identified as Aisha and whose age could not be ascertained as at the time of filing in this report, was kidnapped around 4:40pm at Mafoluku, a residential area very close to the airport.
The woman was said to have been driving in a black jeep before she was abducted. She was allegedly bundled into the car booth of the kidnappers' vehicle before they sped off.
Immediately the kidnapping incident occurred, the police authorities in the state contacted every command to cordon off all strategic areas and search for the kidnappers.
At the airport, the exit points from Mafoluku and Ikeja areas were cordoned off by stern-looking police officers who searched every car on the road.
The deputy commissioner, Airport Command, Mr. Aliru Gwandu, confirmed the incident.
He explained that the kidnapping led to the dispatch of police to strategic positions in the state, but explained that the incident did not happen under his command.
He said, "The information got to the police authorities. The commissioner just called that we should designate our men. A black jeep was snatched. I don't know the number of people involved. It's not airport command but happened around the Lagos State Command because it happened around Mafoluku area of the state."