3 August 2014

Nigeria: Illegal Currency Dealers Flood Lagos Market

Lagos — Alade Market, located in the heart of Ikeja, the capital of Lagos, is one of the A-list market, where customers and traders meet daily to transact business running into millions of naira.

However, beneath the boisterous nature of Alade Market is an illegal foreign currency syndicate that has over the years swindled some customers of their hard earned money, during currency exchange transactions.

Last week, our correspondent visited the market and observed that at the Allen-Obafemi Awolowo junction some young men, armed with calculators, were beckoning on people to patronize them for foreign currencies exchange deals.

However, sources at the market allege that most of the young men patrolling the area as bureau-de-change operators belong to a syndicate that specialises in either short-changing customers during transactions or counterfeit currencies.

A newspaper vendor at the Allen Avenue roundabout said that Wednesday last week, an unidentified lady came to the market to buy $3,000.

According to the vendor, after giving her money in naira to a young man standing near Sweet Sensation, he handed her the dollars.

While she was counting the money, the man disappeared from the scene and on discovering that she was short-changed, the foreign currencies dealer was nowhere to be found.

Ebong Akpan, a tricycle (Keke Marwa) operator plying the Ikeja-Opebi-Allen axis told our correspondent that most of the men loitering around Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja, along Obafemi Awolowo Way, Allen Avenue and some parts of Toyin and Opebi road run a thriving fake foreign currencies cartel.

According to him, police officers from Area 'F' Division in Ikeja are now stationed at Allen Avenue, close to Ecobank branch office, to check criminals in the area.

Commenting on the issue, Umar Manko, Lagos state police commissioner, said that a number of suspects have been arrested by policemen in the area and the police would continue to make more arrests.

The Lagos CP, however, advised people to patronise registered bureaux-de-change that run their businesses officially at the Lagos Airport Hotel, and those who have recognised shops within the premises of Alade Market.

"These registered and currencies dealers are more dependable, as receipts would be issued by them after every business transaction with their customers," Manko said.

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