The police in neighbouring Niger Republic have arrested a Nigerian 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. The Nigerien 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 neighbouring 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.
A senior official of Nigerian Customs Service told PUNCH in confidence that the issue had yet to be brought to the attention of the agency. The official said since the matter was a diplomatic issue, there were protocols that must be adhered to before the customs could step in.