Touting, Money Laundering Boom At Lagos Airport
…Patoviki, Security Personnel Neck Deep In The ‘Deals’
Despite the flooding of the international wing of the Murtala Muhammed Airport, MMIA, Lagos with security men, investigation by abelnewsng.com revealed that touting activities and money laundering ,selling of yellow cards, conniving with passengers to evade security checks still persist at the gateway airport.
While investigating, a source at the airport revealed to Abelnewsng.com that some airport workers now assist air travellers to launder money by carrying their luggage starched with foreign currencies and ensuring that these luggages are not checked at the screening points by security agents.
Abelnewsng.com checks further revealed that these touts, who have refused to leave the airport despite several raids carried out on the now work hand –in- hand with security officials at the airport especially the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria,(FAAN) Aviation Security, (AVSEC)to do the ‘deal’.
It was further revealed that some corrupt personnel of AVSEC allegedly collect daily fees per shift from the touts and that this gave the boldness to carry out the illegal business with impunity.
Those allegedly highly engrossed in the touting activities at the airport are staff of Patovilki Industrial Planner Limited and Lakewood Cleaner, a concessionaire saddled with the responsibility of cleaning the airport environment such as the terminal and toilets.
It was also noticed that some Patoviki staff now sell duly stamped yellow cards to passengers and those intending to travel.
They sell between N2,000 and N3,000, depending on your bargaining power without medical examination as required by law while the same card goes for only N1,000 at Port Health office at the airport, a department under the Ministry of Health before taken the vaccine.
These Patoviki staff have abandon their cleaning job and now sell keys, cello-tape, bathroom slippers, sacks, Ghana Must Go bags and other accessories at the airport, instead of allowing the store owners, who rented shops from FAAN to do the job.
Investigation also showed that some corrupt members of the security agencies such as Police, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Air Force and others are also involved in protocol services at the airport thereby preventing passengers from going through the screening process at the airport.
It was also revealed that some of the security agencies staff have also registered companies used for protocol services for protocol services at the airport.
In the same vein, It was observed that for the touts with valid On-Duty-Cards(ODC), to perpetuate the criminal act, they approach the security agents ahead of time for their clients to have smooth passage.
These touts bargain with them, they agreed on the amount to be paid and the deal is sealed
“The airport is like a market place at the peak period especially during check-in hours. Money laundering, ticket racketeering popularly known as Bingo in the airport and several other criminal activities also take place at the airport. All the revenues FAAN is supposed to be making go into individual’s pockets. Also, retired staff of FAAN, who once worked in Operations Department and know the nook and cranny of the airport, also engage in touting at the airport. This has been on for long, but it has been difficult to curb because of the involvement of security personnel in the crime” a very reliable Lagos Airport source told abelnewng.com.
The source continued, “These people also engage in money laundering for several people. They go as far as taking their luggage beyond the check-in areas. Though, they do it with the connivance of security personnel at the airport.”
Abelnewsng.com recalled that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Saturday, October 21, 2012, arrested an official of the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, FAAN, Akinyele Adetule, at the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos, for being in possession of $1.4 million about N218 million.
According to EFCC, the arrest is on the heels of that of Abubakar Sheriff Tijjani, a bulk cash smuggler intercepted with $7,049.444, at the same airport on Thursday, 27 September, 2012.
The arrest of Adetule by the EFCC confirmed the suspicion that even airport officials are part of the money laundering syndicate.
The then Head of Operations EFCC, Mr. Iliyasu Kwarbai, had stated the suspect passed all security checks because he was wearing his FAAN identity card, but instead of boarding his flight, proceeded to make phone calls.
According to Kwarbai, “The suspect is a FAAN security guard. He wore his tag and was thus able to move freely in the airport without drawing any suspicion. He was carrying a bag and it went through the scanner. The suspect passed through NDLEA, and Customs and he went to the waiting area; but he started making phone calls instead of proceeding to board his flight. We accosted him and noticed that his bag was heavy. When we searched him, we saw the large sum of money, which he said did not belong to him and that he was only trying to telephone the owner who never showed up.”
Attempts made to reach the Acting General Manager, Public Affairs, FAAN, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu proved abortive, as it could not be reach and the text and mail sent to her on the issue was not responded to.