Court orders man caught with $7million at airport to forfeit 25 per cent of sum to FG
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered Tijjani Sherif, the man caught at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, while traveling with $7 million (about N1.1 billion) to forfeit 25 percent of the undeclared cash to the Federal Government.
Justice C.J Aneke gave the order after the 25-year-old man pleaded guilty to a charge of non-disclosure of the total sum of money in his possession, during checks at the airport.
The court also ordered the seizure of all travelling documents of the accused person.
It will be recalled that Tijani a Dubai bound traveler, and an international business tycoon, was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), for being in possession of the total sum of $7.5 Million.
After he pleaded guilty, the EFCC tendered documents related to the arrest of the accused as well as traveling documents which shows that about 20 traders contributed the said sum for the accused to make some purchases in Dubai
Counsel to the EFCC, Mohammed Yusuf had informed the court that the accused was arrested by the police on Sept. 27 at the international wing of the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos.
The lawyer maintained that the accused who claimed to have collected various sums of money from different traders in Lagos, had failed to make a disclosure of the total sum of money he was conveying.
According to Yusuf, at the Customs check point of the airport, the accused had alleged that he had only $4.5 Million in his suit case.
He said that after a thorough search, the officers discovered that what the accused actually had in his possession was $7.5 Million contrary to his initial claim.
The lawyer further told the court that on the whole, a total sum of $8.3 Million had been recovered from the accused, which money was now deposited at the Guarantee Trust Bank Plc (GTB).
According to him the offence contravened section 12 of the Foreign Exchange Monitoring and Miscellanous Act, 2004.
Meanwhile, Counsel to the accused Mr Obafemi Ogundare, during allocutus (plea for leniency), urged the court to tamper justice with mercy, and be reluctant in confining the accused to prison since he is a first offender.
Ogundare pointed out that it would be a shame on the family of the accused, if their son was committed to prison, more so as he was a youngster.
In his judgment, Justice Aneke held that he has taken into the consideration the fact that the accused is a first offender and a very young man.
The judge observed that the accused did not benefit from the money directly and that the court case is an eye opener for the accused as he should have learnt his lesson by now.