The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, has arrested a 39-year-old South African woman at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, with $373,725 (N74.4million) and €2,120 (N450,000) concealed inside packs of oats.
In a statement Thursday, the agency said the money was detected during an inward screening of passengers on a South African airline flight from Johannesburg.
The agency also said two Nigerians are being investigated in connection with the case.
Hamza Umar, the NDLEA Commander at the Lagos Airport, identified the lady as Nosisi Nqgula.
“The mode of concealment presents reasonable grounds for money laundering”, Mr. Umar said. “Five packs of oats were found to contain $373,725 and €2,120. Two Nigerians, Damian Akamelus and Prophet Cyprian Chigere are also being interrogated in connection with the seized money”.
The NDLEA Director of Assets and Financial Investigation, Victoria Egbase, said the refusal of the South African to declare the money and the manner of concealment were criminal and that the case was being investigated to establish possible link with drug trafficking.
The suspect, Ms. Nqgula, who claimed to work in a cosmetic shop, said the bag containing the money was given to her by a Nigerian in South Africa.
“I live in Johannesburg, South Africa”, Ms. Nqgula said in her statement. “I was given a bag by a Nigerian to deliver to one Damian Akamelu. During examination of my bags at the Lagos airport, the money was found inside packs of oats”.
Commending the officers of the agency for detecting the money, the NDLEA Chairman/Chief Executive, Ahmadu Giade, ordered that the case be investigated to determine the source of the money.
“One of the mandates of the agency is to identify, trace, freeze, confiscate or seize proceeds derived from drug-related offences or property whose value corresponds to such proceeds”, said Mr. Giade. “I have therefore directed that the case be investigated to ascertain the source of the money”.
The investigation report is expected to be presented to Mr. Giade for necessary action.
Meanwhile, officials of the South Africa Embassy are said to be in touch with the suspect.