…Says all agencies are partner-agencies!***
The Customs Area Controller (CAC) of Muritala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Adewale Bashir Adeniyi, an impactful image-making guru is not only a remarkable team player and a huge asset to the Customs Service, he also enjoys a uniqueness of mobilizing others for milestone achievements! In an exclusive chat last week, he spoke on the $8 million consignment the Customs Service just impounded, stressing that while the Service anchors its mind on thorough investigation, he sees all government agencies as partner- agencies!
Our investigation showed that this might not be the first time such money was moving through the airport. But might be the first time somebody failed to ‘do the needful’ by carrying the Service along. Can we peep into this consignment, by asking, ‘how did we come to this’, beginning with the packaging?
We are talking about the consignment of foreign currency and they are all in Dollars; and they are in different denomination of dollar bills; of the 100 dollar bills, 50 dollar bills, 20 dollar bills,10 dollar bills; and we have some of them, that are in 1 dollar bills in some part.
It is a total of 20 wraps of various sizes but when we counted all the wraps and totaled them up, we got a number of $8,065,000 plus.
This was the exact amount we saw in the consignment and depending on the exchange rate that you use, you will know that it is something close to about N3 billion.
What we did or what we are doing for now, is still preliminary investigation. What we are able to obtain from the suspect that was arrested.
We arrested a suspect and he gave us some information. But in none of the things he have given us, points towards the involvement of any agency yet.
We are not conclusive and we don’t want to jump the gun. And because we don’t want to pre-empt the investigation, we will wait till such a time when we handover the preliminary investigation outcome to the EFCC. We believe that would be a good point for them to start their own in-depth investigation.
But I will tell you something about the seizure: it is like a baby, when you give birth to a baby; a baby comes from the mum; but we know of course that the dad has been a stakeholder; and almost immediately there would be other paramedical hands, members of the families they would all come together to support the mum in nursing the baby.
That’s what I have discovered with seizures. Immediately the seizure was made, it needs the support of possibly everybody. Because you have to take custody of the seizure, you are to do inventory of the seizure, you have to keep the seizure safe somewhere, if you are doing briefing you have to call all of them; you saw all of that coming up today!
So, I would say we have gotten tremendous support from all the agencies that are working here in managing the seizure!
Once a seizure is made, it sets off a lot of other activities.
Also read: Customs intercepts $8,065,612 at MMIA, Lagos
It took us over 22 hours to count that thing that you saw today, because we have to be meticulous in counting, in documenting and then, anything that we broached we have to make sure that we seal it back.
So, we opened only two today and looking forward, by the time we are going to handover, the agency that will be taking over would still take us through the same process. In fact, there own process is even more painstaking more than; because they would document the serial numbers on each of those notes!
So, it is not something that we thought that the CG could do.
So, we need those partners. I would rather call them partner- agencies who would support us in managing the seizures. They are no longer ‘other agencies’, because we can’t do it without them! They are those that would take over, those that would witness, those that would provide security; every agency has a role to play and we are as strong as our weakest link!
Q: A correspondent said he overheard two officials arguing at FAAN, over the consignment, with one blaming the other for failing to carry the Customs Service along. Would you believe that this development could have been taking place in the past?
Well you said there is an argument going on between two persons at FAAN. As far as we are concerned, it remains an argument. It is only investigation that can bring out the facts of this case whether, it has been going on or not.
The fact is that, I recall that there is still a presidential taskforce that is fighting and combating the issue of money laundering and terrorism- financing in this port; and it is a multi-agency taskforce, consisting Customs, EFCC, Directorate of State Security and other agencies of government.
We have been on ground in this airport for quite sometimes and their effort is complemented by officers of the currency declaration seat that are sent directly from Abuja.
We also have the resident officers who are also performing these roles.
So, in a way you can see it as a three-layer approach; and since I came, I have made it very clear that there will be zero tolerance towards currency trafficking.
So, I monitor their register very very closely and I do know that there could have been attempts to test our resolve and one of those attempts has led to this.
We cultivate our information intelligence; and we follow them up diligently; and it has led to this particular seizure.
To be continued…..