Razaq Ojuawo:arrested with N12m hidden in trousers.
By Sesan Olufowobi
Published: Saturday, 26 Jul 2008 From: Punch on the web.
Twenty-nine-year old Razaq Ojuawo reckoned it was no crime helping some market women to convert the naira into foreign currencies. But he was grossly mistaken. As far as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is concerned it is a crime that provides a platform for other forms of crime.
He has consequently become a guest of officials of the commission who accused him of operating an illegal bureau-de-change and moving in an out of the country without declaring the amount of money on him. The commission suspected that Ojuawo had engaged in the illicit business for some time before he was caught on Saturday.
Ojuawo was on his way from Cotonou, Benin Republic, to Nigeria when he was arrested at the Seme end of the Nigeria-Benin international border. Saturday Punch learnt that it was his funny way of dressing that gave him away to security agents.
It was gathered that the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency officials at the border noticed that while he appeared to have a lanky frame, his legs appeared unusually fat.
Out of curiousity, the officials invited and searched him. To their surprise, they discovered that he had tied N12 million worth of Beninois currency, CFA, around his legs with the aid of sellotape.
He was subsequently arrested and handed over to the EFCC.
He told the commission’s operatives that the money was contributed by some traders at Ebute Ero, Lagos Island market, who were preparing to travel to Cotonou to make some purchases.
“The total money was N12 million. I changed it to $100,000 at a bank here in Lagos and then went to change it to CFA 40 million in Cotonou.
“We were just trying to make trading easier for them so that by the time they got to Benin, they would not need to go through the stress of changing the money to CFA,” Ojuawo said.
He said he was able to go to Benin without being detected by the Nigerian and Beninoise security officials because the dollar equivalent was small and therefore easy to conceal.
Spokesman of the EFCC, Femi Babafemi, said that investigation by EFCC had shown that Ojuawo had a bureau-de-change that he operated illegally on Oguntola Ogunlola Street in Ebute Ero. “I think the name of the outfit is Ogunseye Nigeria Limited,” he said.
But Ojuawo said the outfit was owned by a man named Tunde who gave him the money in the first place.
Babafemi, however, said that the commission would investigate Ojuawo’s claims before charging him to court for operating an illegal bureau-de-change and failing to declare the money at the border post.
*What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.*