The Nigeria Customs Service has intercepted about $8,065,615 at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos.
This was disclosed by the Customs Comptroller-General, Hameed Ali, at a press conference in Lagos on Tuesday.
He added that the cash which was stashed in a car was intercepted while it was about to be loaded into an aircraft.
Ali said a suspect, the driver of the vehicle who is a staff of Nigerian Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO), has been arrested in connection with the alleged money laundering.
He, however, did not provide details of the aircraft but added that the money was stashed inside a vehicle belonging to NAHCO.
Ali said that siting on such credible information, the command operatives at about 1200 hrs on January 16 intercepted illegal movement of foreign currency at the ‘E’ wing of the Tarmac.
He said that on January 18, an inventory of the consignment was taken, and was witnessed by representatives of the Directorate of State Security, Customs Intelligence Unit, Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing Unit, Customs Police and the suspect.
He added that at the end of the inventory, a total number of 20 sealed wraps were opened, counted, re-sealed and re-wrapped under video coverage from the beginning of the exercise to the end.
He further said investigations are on to reveal those behind the laundering.
Ali said that the consignment remains in safe custody, while preliminary investigations had commenced on the seizure, adding that the media would be updated as the investigations unfold.
He explained that currently the value of the threshold in Nigeria was the equivalent of 10,000 dollars and above.
He therefore said that all travellers in and out of Nigeria, must declare any physical cash in excess of this threshold of 10,000 dollars or equivalent of other currencies or monetary instruments.
The Customs boss said that question was often asked, why customs or any agency of government need to know if a private person or company was taking out monies for their personal business ‘out of the country.
He noted that it was for the reason that illegal criminal activities like international terrorism, drug smuggling, arms proliferation are financed by illicit cash movements outside the recognised financial systems.
He added that proceeds from other criminal activities like corrupt enrichments from public treasury are similarly siphoned out of the country in cash.
“To enforce compliance with the monitoring of cross border cash movement, registers are maintained at all approved points of entry and exit, where voluntary declarations are recorded and maintained.
“The declarations are then followed up by the Economic and financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to ascertain any possible link between the cash movers and criminal networks.
“At the Murtala Mohammed Airport, the command put in place additional measures to monitor the implementation of the anti-money laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing operation.
“These measures include surveillance at the arrival and departure halls, increased patrols at the tarmac and cultivation of intelligence around its area of responsibility,” he said.