The police in neighbouring Niger Republic have apprehended a Nigerian man carrying 4.6m Euros (N1.05bn) in cash. The man was arrested at the Diori Hamani Airport in Niamey, the capital of Niger, en route Dubai in the United Arab Emirate.
It’s reported that, the Nigerian police said they suspected that the man was fleeing with the money in order to avoid being caught by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, who has been prosecuting an anti-corruption campaign since assumption of office on May 29.
They also expressed worry that there had been an upsurge in the number of Nigerians trafficking huge sums of money in cash through the neighbouring country.
The police in Niger are already working on the suspicion that the money traffickers have accomplices in the country. The arrest of the Nigerian has been a big news item in the Nigerien newspapers and television stations.
Curiously, the authorities here on Wednesday claimed ignorance of the money seizure in the neighboring country though the Customs officers in Niger were already kicking against repatriating the cash to Nigeria.
A media report in Niger on Saturday said the National Union of Customs Officers at a press briefing “denounced the request of the Nigerian authorities” to return the seized money.
The Customs official said there had been several similar seizures in Niamey from people trafficking money from Nigeria, putting the amount that had been so seized in several billions of naira.
They said the seized money had been mainly in dollars, euros and pounds sterling, asking the Niger authorities to allow the Customs officials to do their job without interference.
When contacted, the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said he could not speak on the development because his brief was to speak for the President.
He therefore referred PUNCH to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“I speak for the President. On this kind of issues, I will advice that you speak with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” he said.
At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the officials denied knowledge of the seizure in Niger Republic. The ministry’s spokesperson, Ogbole Ahmedu-Ode, said the ministry had not received official communication on the arrest of any Nigerian.
“I am hearing about this incident for the first time from you, we have not received any communication on the matter from any quarters,” he said over the telephone..
The Nigerien embassy in Abuja could not be reached for comment on Wednesday as calls to the mission’s phone lines failed to connect.
The spokesman for the Nigerian Customs Service, Mr Wale Adeniyi could not be reached for comments as text message and repeated calls made to his mobile line were not replied as of the time (8.30pm) of filling this report are investigating because the Customs in Niger don’t report directly to us in Nigeria.”